Moving Victoria from Recycling to a Circular Economy
27 February 2020

The Victorian Government’s launch of the Victorian Circular Economy strategy and additional funding is welcomed by the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR), the national peak body for all stakeholders in the essential waste and resource recovery industry.

“The $300 million funding injection in Victoria will have a marked impact on assisting industry and the community to create the waste and resource recovery industry Victoria deserves. This will underpin the circular economy we need to move to – an economy that places emphasis on responsible management of finite natural materials,” WMRR CEO, Ms Gayle Sloan said. “The Strategy provides a real opportunity to create new jobs in Victoria as well as reduce greenhouse gas emissions”.

With the increasing consumption of finite resources, innovation will be key in shaping and changing the way we view materials. How we re-design, re-use and repair will be key to Victoria’s success in creating a circular economy. We must see the value in the materials we use and how we manage them; we need to stop simply discarding and looking for the lowest cost options at the end of the pipe, and instead focus on creating the highest value across the supply chain.

“Increasing the landfill levy in Victoria is necessary and has strong support,” said Ms Sloan. “Industry hopes that it will be underpinned by well-articulated policy that supports genuine investment in resource recovery, in line with the waste management hierarchy, and assists with the development of markets for recovered products. To achieve this, at least 50% of the funds raised by the levy should be invested in the industry and WMRR looks forward to working with government on how this will occur.”

“WMRR is also pleased to see emphasis on investment for data for our essential industry,” said Ms Sloan. “Data is a national as well as state priority, given the challenge we have in tracking materials through the entire supply chain, as well as across states”.

“WMRR does not support the movement of material interstate to avoid landfill levies, and we support removing commercial incentives to do so, however we also require improved national coordination on levies in order that the levy liability follows the waste. We need a national approach to the ‘proximity principle’, so that waste is managed close to where it was generated. That way we not only disincentivise movement; we incentivise local infrastructure and jobs,” said Ms Sloan.

WMRR also looks forward, as part of this Strategy and commitment to 80% diversion, to the Victorian Government leading the way in publicly committing and contracting to long-term spending on Australian recycled manufactured products, such as materials for buildings, roads, footpaths, playgrounds, and street furniture (all of which, and more, are products currently on the market). We cannot divert materials without demand for products from them!

“2020 could be an exciting time for our essential industry if all jurisdictions take the lead that Victoria has started, committing new and real monies to infrastructure, research, technology and markets,” said Ms Sloan.

“Let’s hope this happens and our essential industry gets the chance to create an onshore manufacturing industry and real jobs!”