The National Waste Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) is calling on Federal, State and Territory Environment Ministers at their meeting this week to appoint a National Waste and Resource Recovery Commissioner to ensure the National Waste Policy will be successful.

Australia can no longer ignore the significance of the waste, resource recovery and recycling challenges it faces.  We are still one of the highest generators of waste per capita in the developed world.

Inconsistent state waste regulations, limited infrastructure planning, reliance on overseas markets for recyclates, unfair local markets, increasing contamination, and lack of regulated product stewardship schemes are all major barriers to Australia maximising the true economic, environmental and social value of its waste as a resource.

Unless there is a significant shift in how our federal, state and territory government’s work together

to remove these barriers, Australia’s waste will continue to grow, and industry will not invest in technologies capable of transforming waste into valuable resources that meet local and global markets.

The right policy settings will unlock new revenues, create jobs and build competitiveness; however governments must support not hinder the waste and recycling industry.

A National Waste and Resource Recovery Commissioner would be responsible for ensuring the policy is implemented, facilitating collaboration, streamlining regulatory reform and encouraging investment from all levels of government, producers, manufacturers, importers, retailers and recyclers.

Key actions that must be progressed as a matter of urgency include:

  • Harmonising state waste regulations specifically around waste definitions, licensing and transport.
  • A national waste and recycling infrastructure strategy that maps material and resource pathways for the next 30 years.
  • Regulating battery and tyre product stewardship schemes.
  • Mandating local, state and government procurement of recycled content in products and services.
  • Reviewing the National Environment Protection Measure (NEPM) for packaging and including mandated targets for recycled content in packaging and that all packaging must be recyclable, compostable or reusable.
  • Increasing investment in community and business education that encourages modifies consumption, increases reuse, improves source separation and reduces contamination.

These changes are critical to creating an environment that gives industry certainty and the confidence to invest long-term in advanced technology. The right policy setting and regulations will also enable new businesses to deliver new jobs and create more valuable resources for reuse while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and keeping plastics out of our waterways and soils.