Australia on the right path to tackling plastics
1 July 2021
This year’s Plastic Free July, which kicks off today, will be one to remember, with Australia progressing on a number of fronts to create a system-based approach towards managing plastic materials.
In addition to the once in a lifetime funding commitment made by all levels of government, the federal government is today commencing the first of its two (2) waste plastic export bans, with the first licence to export awarded this week.
“Our essential waste and resource recovery sector has long supported the waste export bans and the industry has and continues to work closely with the federal government to ensure a smooth transition that will meet our environmental and economic objectives,” CEO of the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR), Ms Gayle Sloan, said.
“There is a ton of work happening behind the scenes between industry and government and of course, as with any new initiative of this size, there are bound to be teething issues, many of which relate to the complexity of what we are addressing and the long timeframes required to set up waste and resource recovery facilities – from the planning approval stage, to receiving specialist equipment from overseas, to construction and commissioning. However, we absolutely appreciate the close engagement and funding to date, which we would not have received in the absence of the bans.
“It is exciting to see the sheer number of projects in the pipeline and industry is committed to investing and growing our recycling and processing capacity, having moved considerably in the last 12 months. As we continue to plan for additional infrastructure that will drive onshore processing, we will look to the states to assist with clear and fast-tracked planning and regulatory pathways that will drive these outcomes.”
The industry is increasingly receiving clean material streams, thanks to strong policies implemented recently in Australia such as container deposit schemes and eliminating single-use plastics, all of which are in operation or about to roll out across jurisdictions.
“Packaging materials are complex and these schemes, coupled with investment in growing our industry, will assist in shifting our thinking, to ultimately create an integrated resource management system that first and foremost avoids the creation of waste, with materials that are consumed then appropriately managed within the waste and resource recovery system where we maximise the recovery and recycling of these materials to be used in remanufacturing,” Ms Sloan said.
“These signals and movements would not have happened without the strong leadership of our federal government strong support of the states, as well as our industry’s resilience, innovation, and investment in Australia’s waste and resource recovery landscape.”