The Waste Management Association of Australia (WMAA) has welcomed the release of a draft NSW Circular Economy policy this week, commending the NSW Government for taking the first step in the transition from a ‘take, make, dispose’ approach to a model that embraces circular economy principles.
The circular economy discussion has intensified over the last 18 months, and with good reason, however, this is still a new concept to many and the draft policy is a positive starting point in helping stakeholders understand what a circular economy entails and why this would benefit NSW.
“We welcome the NSW Government’s commitment to leading this process and acknowledge the details within the draft paper that discusses and quantifies the benefits that a circular economy will bring,” WMAA CEO Ms Gayle Sloan said.
Amongst these details are estimates of the additional jobs generated from a circular economy approach across industries such as waste services and construction, as well as references to job creation in countries that have implemented circular economy initiatives.
“The waste and resource recovery industry is committed to landfill diversion, investment, and job creation in NSW and we appreciate the ability to boost the economy and grow jobs. We also note the paper’s reference to learnings from other countries – all of these details justify why a circular economy is beneficial.”
Another positive is the Government’s acknowledgement of the need to expand product stewardship schemes.
“WMAA commends the government for its support for broadening and strengthening stewardship schemes. This has been discussed time and again and it is pleasing to see that industry’s feedback has been heard,” Ms Sloan said.
There is still more work to be done on the policy however, as the devil is in the details.
“WMAA supports the paper’s proposal that the NSW Government will investigate opportunities to incorporate circular economy principles into the WARR Strategy as part of the five-yearly review process. We are also calling on Government to consider how the waste levy should look like in a circular economy environment, including how collected monies are re-invested in industry to further boost processing and jobs,” Ms Sloan said.
As NSW is not unique in its quest to transition to a circular economy, WMAA is urging the NSW Government to work with its counterparts to ensure a consistent and well thought out approach, one that includes realistic targets, milestones, initiatives, and financial incentives to drive this policy forward.
“Given all States are either preparing or implementing similar strategies, it is vital that these strategies align and work together as we are one economy in Australia,” Ms Sloan said, adding that an important next step would be for NSW to follow in the footsteps of its neighbours by setting up an organisation similar to Sustainability Victoria or Green Industries South Australia to implement the final policy. Doing so would assist in NSW’s efforts to achieve the market development objectives set out in the policy.
“WMAA looks forward to contributing to the final document, including rolling out the strategy in NSW and working with the other States as Australia sets off on this important transition,” Ms Sloan concluded.