COAG an opportunity to develop WARR infrastructure piece to boost economy

 10 March 2020

With only days to go before the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting on Friday, the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) is calling for a robust national infrastructure plan along with a complementary and transparent funding program to ensure the success of the forthcoming national waste export bans, and to boost Australia’s economy.

Over recent weeks, some states have taken up the mantle, announcing positive policy and funding initiatives that we hope will assist in building much-needed infrastructure, driving government procurement of recycled materials, and developing end markets. While WMRR congratulates all governments for picking up the pace and acknowledging that business as usual is not, and cannot be, the way forward, the bigger national piece of the overall waste and resource recovery infrastructure picture is still unclear.

“While WMRR recognises that infrastructure planning and delivery must occur on a state level, what remains absent is the important and necessary role the federal government must play in developing a national infrastructure plan, one that takes on an intelligent, strategic and cohesive approach to planning in order to build an expansive, adequate, and sustainable network of essential waste and resource recovery infrastructure across Australia, including in regional and remote areas,” WMRR CEO, Ms Gayle Sloan, said, adding, “This was recognised as a ‘High Priority Initiative’ by Infrastructure Australia in February 2020.

“WMRR has consistently pointed to the value of growing the domestic waste and resource recovery industry, which in addition to providing an essential service to the community and protecting the environment, creates Australian jobs, sustains local economies, and decouples Australia from the uncertainties of the global market.

“When we consider the various global issues today that are causing turmoil in financial markets and global economies, including Australia’s, our sector could provide a much-needed lifeline by stimulating the economy through local reprocessing and remanufacturing, which in turn means more jobs, and building greater resilience in what is, and has been, a challenging time for Australia.

“With the first of the bans to be rolled out in a little over three (3) months, and knowing that it can take up to  five (5) years to develop, build, and commission a resource recovery facility in Australia, WMRR is urgently calling on the federal government to take the opportunity at COAG to commit to developing a national framework in order to guide immediate investment in, and development of, the infrastructure needed to process and remanufacture materials that will be subject to the bans,” Ms Sloan said.

WMRR also notes that while the federal government has committed publicly to a one-third share of funding infrastructure, this must be the funding of all necessary infrastructure under a national strategy, not only what the government considers will be impacted by the export ban.

“The federal government has a clear role to play, along with the states, in ensuring the provision of this essential service to the entire community; it must not check its responsibility at the door of the materials subject to the export bans. The waste and resource recovery industry continues to support the export ban on the basis that it is an opportunity to create genuine Australian markets for all Australian recycled materials,” Ms Sloan concluded.