Environmentalists, waste and resource recovery industry seek much-needed changes on recycling

7 November 2019

Environment groups and the waste and resource recovery industry have come together in a final appeal to Australia’s environment ministers to ‘get it right’ at their crucial Friday meeting in Adelaide.

“This is first and only Meeting of Environment Ministers scheduled for 2019 and it is absolutely crucial that the changes we’ve been advocating for over the last 18 months are not just discussed but actioned,” the Boomerang Alliance and the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) said in a joint statement.

“The pressure continues to build with Asia’s rejection of our mixed, lower quality recycling, which had been traded in the past; the PM’s waste export ban plan; and the threat that without systemic changes including developing remanufacturing and purchasing post-consumer recyclate, our collected resources will increasingly go to landfill.”

Ms Gayle Sloan, CEO of WMRR added: “Unlike other countries, Australia has so far failed to introduce policies to drive demand and make producers equitably and appropriately responsible for the materials they produce. Other than the states that have introduced a Container Refund Scheme, we really don’t as yet have funding models that underpin polluter-pays policies, we have no incentives to encourage the use of recycled product instead of virgin materials, and we don’t have enforceable targets.”

Mr Jeff Angel, Director of the Boomerang Alliance said: ‘’Australia can’t afford to miss this chance to make a real difference. The fact that two parties who have rarely been on the same page in the past are now in furious agreement about the essential policy and funding settings to grow a dynamic and profitable recycling sector should be a convincing case for the ministers. It’s also our best chance to retain the community’s support for recycling.’’ 

The Boomerang Alliance and WMRR are jointly calling on Ministers to commit to the following, which are urgently required, at MEM on Friday:

  • A confirmed timetable for an export ban of mixed recyclables.
  • Specific and committed funding to develop Australia’s recycling, reprocessing, and remanufacturing capacity.
  • State government policies on recycled procurement in each jurisdiction.
  • A mandated product stewardship scheme for packaging.