Millions to kick off 2021… Where are the others?

20 January 2021

Two states - Victoria and South Australia - have kicked off 2021 with a bang, allocating millions of dollars to our essential waste and resource recovery sector under the federal government’s $190 million Recycling Modernisation Fund (RMF), just as the first of the COAG waste export bans (glass) started on 1 January 2021.

Victoria was first this week to unravel its wad of cash, announcing $8.1 million in first round funding for seven glass and plastics projects as part of a $46 million co-investment under the RMF. The remaining $38 million will be available through a new round under the Recycling Victoria Infrastructure Fund (RVIF), which will open for applications in March.

Today, SA followed suit, announcing the inking of a $30 million deal with the federal government that would be committed to projects that investigate new technology and equipment for mixed plastics reprocessing, glass re-manufacturing, and recovering and separating soft plastics.

“The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) welcomes this week’s announcements and congratulate the Victorian and South Australian governments for finalising and announcing their RMF co-investment agreements that assist in driving a transformation of Australia’s WARR capacity,” WMRR CEO, Ms Gayle Sloan, said.

“We have RMF co-investment commitments in almost all jurisdictions, with Tasmania, the ACT, and WA announcing their funding in 2020. These commitments are vital to addressing the immediate issue of the COAG export bans, as well as contributing to the shared vision of transitioning Australia to a more circular economy,  increasing the capacity and capability to recycle, reprocess, and remanufacture in Australia.

“So, the question that remains is, where are Queensland and NSW in this journey? The COAG bans were announced in 2019 and the RMF in July 2020 and yet, we have not seen a public process to fund facilities in Queensland since 2018, nor for relevant facilities in NSW in recent times. The first of the bans have commenced with the next coming up on 1 July 2021. Further, we continue to have significant infrastructure gaps in Australia that need to be closed sooner rather than later if we want to maximise WARR opportunities that will drive positive economic, environmental, and community outcomes.

“Most states have plans, policies, and funding agreements to take us to a more resource-efficient future and we’d urge Queensland and NSW to accelerate their new matched funds and plans now or risk being the jurisdictions that are dragging the chain for the rest of Australia,” Ms Sloan said, adding: “This is a particular issue in NSW where industry keeps being told all will be solved through the 20-year strategy, which is now on its third attempt in three years and still not due until March 2021. NSW has much to lose – investment, jobs to name a few – if this indecision and lack of leadership continues.”