2021 Federal Budget – a multi-faceted driving force

 12 May 2021

The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) congratulates the federal government for its sustained commitment to waste and resource recovery (WARR), with the 2021 budget unveiling new money once again for our essential industry, in particular, a monumental commitment to tackling food waste.

Of the close to $80 million announced for the sector yesterday, $67 million is to be invested in new food organic and garden organic waste (FOGO) initiatives, including the establishment of a Food Waste for Health Soils Fund, aimed at diverting organic material from landfill to productive use in agricultural soils.

“We know that Australia has some of the driest soils in the world and as a country, we generated 42.9 million tonnes of organic waste in 2018-19, with FOGO making up a total of 20% of that volume. That year alone, 6.87 million tonnes in total were deposited to landfill,” WMRR CEO, Ms Gayle Sloan, noted.

“Yesterday’s funding announcement will have numerous positive and far-reaching outcomes – from boosting landfill diversion and in turn, driving carbon emissions down, to beneficial reuse within the agricultural sector, allowing it to grow more food. By driving these sectors, we will start to see more and more jobs created and the quality of our soils improved.

“There is also a significant piece of the food chain puzzle that we are optimistic the federal government will turn its eye to, that is the avoidance of food waste in the first instance, which is the top priority of the waste hierarchy and is aligned to our national target to half food waste by 2030. We are sure that the government will also use this opportunity to grow the vital work being done by programs led by the Fight Food Waste CRC, as well as Love Food hate Waste that has been committed to by the states, in order to prevent the creation of waste in the first place, particularly as doing so is the third most effective way to tackle climate change and will result in greater savings for the community.”

Product stewardship is another area of focus, with a further $5.9 million allocated to additional investments in industry-led schemes.  

“We look forward to the development of meaningful product stewardship schemes that will shift the dial on the way we manage our resources so that we can start to make giant leaps towards the circular economy that we aspire to and must be,” Ms Sloan said.

“As our industry continues to drive circularity by investing in our capacity, capability and technology, we are also excited by the prospect of more end markets coming to the fore for the recycled materials that we produce, particularly with the $15.2 billion infrastructure spend in the budget. As all governments start to push forward in their road, rail and community building activities across the country, we’d urge them to look at how they can maximise the use of Australian recycled material in their projects.

“If governments do that, we will be able to capture the not-to-be-missed opportunity of stimulating remanufacturing across metro, regional and rural areas, which will develop and grow local economies and jobs - this is on top of the forecasted 30,000 additional jobs that will come with the government’s 10-year build program.

“We look forward to working will all governments to continue to build on the positive materials management momentum through the new funding in the 2021 budget, as well as the commitments made over the last year such as the Recycling Modernisation Fund and the Modern Manufacturing Initiative,” Ms Sloan concluded.