WMRR welcomes Environment Ministers’ agreement to act on packaging

9 June 2023

The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) welcomes the announcement by Environment Ministers that there will finally be real action taken by government on packaging, with design rules aimed at cutting waste and boosting recycling being introduced.

“This is a great start,” said WMRR CEO Ms Gayle Sloan, “the introduction of mandated targets for recycled content is the first step on the path to creating the level playing field industry desperately needs between virgin and recycled materials. 
“To grow demand for the materials that we consume and the recyclate that we produce as a country, we need a strong local market to buy these materials back. We have witnessed that the existing voluntary targets have not and will not drive this demand, so this step is welcome by industry.”

WMRR applauds the Ministers for recognising the importance of both design and increasing products that can be circulated, and any chance of succeeding relies on robust systems that enable re-use, repair and recycle. Whilst the government is starting to get the right idea with this agreement, the job is not yet done; in fact, it has only just begun.

“We need these systems change to continue.  We need to ensure that in line with the export bans, we have local demand, which means committing to using Australian recycled content and not imported recycled content. It is only logical that if we stop Australia recycling commodities going offshore, then we must disallow recycling commodities from other countries to come on-shore,” Ms Sloan said. 

There remains an expectation by Ministers that companies producing packaging will take responsibility for their waste and Ms Sloan warned that real change will only be realised by the mandatory scheme foreshadowed at Senate Estimates on the 24th of May.  

“We know that the co-regulatory approach taken by the Australian Packaging Covenant over the last twenty years has not delivered, and the reality is that a genuine systems change that covers all packaging streams, including imports and exports, is required. To enact this change, we need a genuine Extended Producer Responsibility scheme funded by the packaging industry that links to genuine enforcement of the impending design standards as well as the existing export regulations. WMRR is very keen to be part of this shift and involved in this exciting development,” Ms Sloan said.  

“Further design standards are also welcome, such as accelerating the ban on PFAS in Australia across all categories and not just packaging. 

“WMRR congratulates our Environment Ministers to taking some brave steps forward, and we are confident that they will remain committed to this path of reform, which is what we need to hit both 80% resource recovery by 2030 and our carbon and circular targets. Bravo,” Ms Sloan said.