TAKEAWAYS | State Minister Address and Overview of the Government 20-Year Strategy
Introduced by Tony Khoury, Executive Director of the Waste Contractors & Recyclers Association of NSW, Hon Matt Kean MP, the Minister for Energy and Environment opened AWRE Online with an insight and update into where NSW stands with their 20-Year strategy.
The Government 20-year strategy sets goals for reducing waste, driving sustainable recycling markets and identifying and improving the state and regional waste infrastructure network. Their focus for the 20-Year Waste Strategy and accompanying policies is sustainability, reliability and affordability. This strategy will contribute to NSW’s vision of a circular economy where resources are more valued by keeping materials in use for as long as possible.
The Minister acknowledged that “Managing the global pandemic has forced…everyone into uncharted territory.” and that “…adaptability has become the order of the day.”
The waste industry has stayed active throughout 2020. Whilst many of us stayed at home, much of the industry was still out each day making sure that our nation stayed clean and safe, for that the Minister thanked the waste industry for all of their hard work throughout the pandemic.
But as NSW begins to refocus towards waste goals and strategy, the Minister said “We’ve got to do what’s right for the environment and what’s right for the community as we move to a more circular economy.’
Unfortunately, based on current trends, it is looking like NSW will not meet the target of diverting 75% of waste from landfills by 2021, the Minister stated “…if we don’t act now, there is a risk that NSW waste systems will not cope.”.
Cutting down and managing our waste is a joint effort by many and the Minister thanked everyone who provided a comment on the issues paper ‘Cleaning up our act: The future of waste and resource recovery in NSW’. We are told the inputs will be incorporated in the draft 20-year waste strategy which we can expect to see early in 2021, with the final strategy coming in June 2021, which is to include the ‘Plastics Plan’.
So the Plastics Plan, what can we expect?
“We are serious about phasing out key single-use and problematic plastics…We have to shift the idea of waste from being a problem to be managed to a resource to be used.” said the Minister, and stated the following goals for NSW, which included:
- Tripling the proportion of plastic recycled in NSW by 2030
- Reducing plastic litter items by 20% by 2025
- Making NSW a leader in research both in Australia and Internationally
He then moved on to discussing waste as a wider effort, not solely the work of the industry and government. We have to acknowledge, that waste management is a basic community amenity. Plus, this 20-year waste strategy is also partly the responsibility of the producers who are creating all of the products which end up in our waste.
We need to change the behaviors and attitudes of the community as well. The Minster sees positive change happening with the example of the ‘Return and Earn’ scheme, stating that almost 3/4 of all adults in NSW have participated in this scheme. In addition, drink container litter has plummeted, and ‘Return and Earn’ has provided the recycling industry with a reliable stream of clean and recyclable material. Overall this is helping to promote the development of the domestic recycling industry.
“It’s proof that smart policy can reduce costs…community is ready to make changes to the way they live and generate waste if the industry and the government can guarantee it will make a difference to the health of the environment and community.”
Tony Khoury, Waste Contractors & Recyclers Association of NSW
Hon Matt Kean MP, NSW Minister for Energy and Environment