COAG 2020: Australian governments focused on building our sustainable future

 13 March 2020

The Waste Response Strategy released by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) after today’s meeting has shown a deeper level of understanding and recognition of what is needed to build a sustainable waste and resource recovery industry in Australia, and we are encouraged to see that governments are in it for the long haul.

“The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) welcomes the Waste Response Strategy and acknowledges that government at all levels are hearing stakeholders – industry and community alike – and committing to the growth and development of a sustainable waste and resource recovery system in Australia,” WMRR CEO, Ms Gayle Sloan, said.

“It is evident that the Commonwealth government is prepared to remain at the table and work with all other Australian governments,  in order that we can future proof and resource our essential industry as we respond to the waste export bans, and achieve the waste reduction and recycling outcomes that the Australian community rightly expects.

“The strategy not only acknowledges that waste plastic is a significant and complex issue, both in Australia and globally, it also takes positive initial steps in mapping out what all jurisdictions must do to tackle this challenge, from harmonising policies and programs to phase out single-use and hard to recycle plastics, to the Commonwealth supporting industry to invest in new plastics processing capacity through competitive grant funding, and commercial and concessional loans. These are all incredibly positive steps.”

Of note however, will be the need to fast track infrastructure because with only two years till the roll-out of the plastics ban and the significant volume of waste plastic that needs to be managed, Australia needs to start building processing facilities now for them to be up and running ahead of 2022.

“Everyone knows that plastics is a global problem and industry, along with the community wants to, and stands ready to fix this, so we are encouraged that governments are committed to tackling the challenge head-on with us.”

WMRR also welcomes the funding commitments by states, including WA’s $15 million provision to support local processing of plastics and tyres and $5 million for access to industrial zoned land, and ‘Recycling Victoria’ announced prior to the COAG meeting.

“WMRR appreciates that the federal, state and territory governments are listening and that our essential waste and resource recovery sector remains firmly on the agenda. As we work through the strategy, the industry is committed to working closely with all levels of government to ensure a smooth and successful implementation of the bans, and ultimately, to develop a strong remanufacturing and reprocessing sector in Australia, driving the country towards a more circular economy,” Ms Sloan said.