COAG outcomes a positive step for the economy, environment, and community

Today’s Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting outcomes represent a big step in continuing Australia’s journey to build a sustainable domestic remanufacturing industry, strengthen the economy and create Australian jobs, while ensuring human and environmental health are protected.

Waste management and resource recovery were firmly on the table at the COAG meeting in Cairns and leaders agreed to develop a timetable to ban the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres, while building Australia’s capacity to generate high value recycled commodities and associated demand.

“This is a significant and positive commitment – industry has always advocated that Australia should be processing our own waste and recyclables. Industry can, and is keen, to build capacity and the fact that we’re on the agenda and we have the Prime Minister’s and Premiers’ attention means we can finally move forward,” Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) CEO, Ms Gayle Sloan, said.

“The meeting today highlighted numerous opportunities that go above and beyond waste and resource recovery to develop an Australia we all want to live in and be a part of. However, it is evident that our essential industry checks all these boxes in the communiqué as building and strengthening local processing and remanufacturing will create jobs, positively add to the economy, develop and promote key skills for Australia, and positively add to the infrastructure work that’s going on around the country including across regional Australia.”

WMRR also supports the task given to Environment Ministers to advise on a proposed timetable and response strategy following consultation with industry and other stakeholders. As part of this exercise, leaders agreed the strategy “must seek to reduce waste, especially plastics, decrease the amount of waste going to landfill and maximise the capability of our waste management and recycling sector to collect, recycle, reuse, convert and recover waste.”

“It is heartening to see that Ministers must now work on a firm timetable because that would equate to real action, which is what Australia needs. WMRR looks forward to continuing its strong, collaborative engagement with the Federal and all State and Territory governments,” Ms Sloan said.

“We also look forward to the Meeting of Environment Ministers (MEM) convening sooner rather than later to progress what we all know we need – and what is now clearly in everyone’s sights – market signals that will enable industry to invest and all stakeholders to support onshore remanufacturing and markets for domestic recycled products. We’ve been spinning our wheels for 18 months so MEM must finalise this timetable at its next meeting. Globally, we’ve seen other nations like China, Europe, and Canada push through and establish the mechanisms to develop a circular economy in two to three years and we need to follow suit. MEM needs to be the point where we determine what action needs to happen and by when.

“We need to keep abreast with what’s happening in other developed nations when it comes to green, domestic remanufacturing. Today is an important day as one and all are recognising that waste and resource recovery is a shared responsibility. These are challenging but exciting times and industry is excited about the strong outcomes and impacts these decisions will have on not just industry, but the economy, environment, and community.”