Federal Parliament introducing Recycling and Waste Reduction Bill
Seeking to phase out the export of 645,000 tonnes of unprocessed plastic, paper, glass and tyres annually, the Bill has been introduced in 2020.
Talking on the new Bill and calling it a “landmark legislation”, Environment Minister Sussan Ley said that Australia will now look to be taking responsibility for its waste and work to establish a national industry framework for recycling.
“This is about tackling a national environmental issue that has been buried in landfill or shipped offshore for far too long” said the Minister.
“This is a once in a generation opportunity to remodel waste management, reduce pressure on our environment and create economic opportunity, as we move to a circular economy with a strong market for recycled materials” she continued.
Working alongside the previously announced $190 million Recycling Modernisation Fund and National Waste Policy Action Plan, it was also mentioned by Sussan Ley that the Bill will help create 10,000 new jobs spanning over the next decade. “That is a 32 per cent increase in jobs in the Australian waste and recycling sector” said Ley.
Trevor Evans, Assistant Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Minister, spoke on how the Bill would improve existing framework for product stewardship, encouraging companies to take on greater responsibility for waste generated by them through the products they design, manufacture or distribute.
“We are making it easier for industry to set up and join in product stewardship schemes. Yet where voluntary product stewardship are not effective, or where they are not created in priority areas, the government will have new tools to intervene and regulate” said Evans.
“Our legislative changes will transform our waste industry, meaning increased recycling and remanufacturing of waste materials, which will create new industry and generate more jobs” said the Minister.
A statement from The National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) shows the council’s support of the introduction of the legislation, seeing it as an important part of the reform process that will contribute to succeeding in establishing a circular economy.
“Most importantly this step by the Australian Government acknowledges that waste and recycling services are an essential service” reads the statement.
“The raft of measure and initiative currently in play are creating much needed momentum for positive systemic change”.
The Bill is still being reviewed by the council based on the feedback they provided on the draft curated in July, saying “the actions of the current Commonwealth Government, in particular Assistant Minister Evans, Minister Ley and the Prime Minister, have gone a long way to demonstrating national leadership and state coordination” in their statement.
According to NWRIC, there are still however some key aspects of the reform process that they consider to need detailed attention and completion. From creating market for recovered materials through government procurement, to requiring companies to increase recycled content in products and packaging, including imported goods.
“Greater coordination of waste and recycling infrastructure planning across all levels of government and investment of the $1.5 billion state landfill levies collected annually, is also an outstanding area of work needing further development” said the statement.
“Cleaning up what is collected by harmonising collection bin contents, urgently establishing a regulated battery recycling program and removing hazardous substances like PFAS from products, are obvious imperatives at this time”..
“Focused action is also required to harmonise waste and recycling data, definitions, movement tracking, landfill levies and licensing” it continues.
Pete Shmigel, CEO of Australian Council of Recycling, said the Federal Government deserves full credit for its “proactive and purposeful agenda”.
“Taken together with other reforms, this unprecedented legislation marks a new era of environmental and economic achievement in recycling through government leadership and industry partnership and innovation” said Shmigel.
“Having the law, policy and governments backing the industry in making unprecedented investments in collecting, sorting, cleaning and manufacturing from recyclate from homes, business and construction sites is awesome”.
” This will unlock huge intergenerational value – whether it’s keeping stuff out of wasteful landfills or creating jobs in country towns” he said.
The government will continue to work with the industry in developing rules for each specific material under the waste export ban, ensuring businesses understand their obligations and how they can meet them.