Recycling and Waste Reduction Bill – narrow margin sends a clear signal

9 December 2020

On Tuesday, the Senate passed the Recycling and Waste Reduction Bill 2020, only narrowly rejecting an amendment by the Greens for a mandated packaging product stewardship scheme.

The amendment, also supported by Labor and consistently advocated for by the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR), along with other industry bodies, lost by a single vote, signaling the importance of the issue, and the growing support for a mandated scheme.

“What we have seen to-date is strong community support for action – real action – to be taken to tackle packaging and create jobs in Australia. The message is clear - business as usual is not acceptable anymore!  Australians deserve more than a continuation of a voluntary, packaging industry-led scheme that has made little, if any, progress,” WMRR CEO, Ms Gayle Sloan, said.

“While it is disappointing that the amendment fell through on a single vote, it is heartening to see growing consensus that we need to do more to tackle the packaging that we consume and dispose of. There are real opportunities to close the loop domestically – building local businesses, driving new industries, job creation, and environmental protection – and it is disappointing that some in the Senate did not understand that. However, it is extremely encouraging to see the level of support for change.

“With the export bans coming in shortly, and the need to meet national targets, WMRR is urging all governments to think about how we can tackle packaging with the limited and voluntary tools that we’ve been given.

“WMRR proposes that it’s time to set up a genuinely independent body truly representative of all stakeholders in the supply chain, including but not limited to the packaging industry, to find productive ways in which we can work together to genuinely close the loop on packaging in Australia by using Australian recycled products. This is key if we are serious about making real progress while being hamstrung by the lack of regulation on the packaging industry,” Ms Sloan said.