From (pulp) fiction to reality – building the road to post-COVID recovery

18 May 2020

If governments’ ongoing efforts in developing the right policy and funding settings for the impending COAG waste exports bans are anything to go by, then there is much Australia can look forward to in its goal to build domestic recycling capacity and future-proof our essential waste and resource recovery sector.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impeded the growth and progress of numerous industries and while there are still challenging times ahead, the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) is encouraged by scale of work being undertaken to ensure Australia has the necessary strategic policies and plans that would build a solid foundation for a strong and sustainable environment and lay out a roadmap for recovery post-COVID-19.

“Prior to the pandemic, the Prime Minister announced a co-investment model between the federal government, state governments, and industry and over the last few weeks, we’ve heard that this approach remains on track. So, today’s announcement by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment of an EOI for an industry partner to co-develop a funding proposal for new paper/cardboard processing capacity is welcome news,” WMRR CEO, Ms Gayle Sloan, said.

This infrastructure aims to address the shortfall in domestic paper and cardboard processing capacity ahead of the 1 July 2024 export ban on mixed waste paper and cardboard. Applications to the Commonwealth are due on 31 July 2020, with a decision on successful projects expected at the end of August 2020.

“One of the things we’ve been saying to all governments is that planning for the bans must continue so that Australia can emerge out of COVID-19 with a viable and resilient sector that drives domestic processing of materials and importantly, provides local revenue and jobs - not just during the infrastructure development phase, but also across operations throughout the lifespan of facilities and services. The release of this EOI is proof that the government agrees that there are opportunities in our sector – both in the domestic recovery of materials and the recovery of economies,” Ms Sloan said.

“WMRR is aware that a significant amount of work is going on behind the scenes and we are optimistic about further funding announcements in due course. For now, we would like to congratulate state and federal governments for working closely with our essential industry and we look forward to more good news that would both protect and bolster our environment, communities, and economies.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the need for Australia to build a resilient domestic economy as this creates bountiful opportunities, and the WARR industry stands ready to continue working with governments to capitalise on these opportunities and create remanufacturing jobs and investment throughout Australia. This is a sector where the well will not run dry because where there are people, there are and will be waste (resources) ready to be remanufactured back into the products they once were,” Ms Sloan concluded.