The National Waste Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) attended the Australian Local Government Association’s National General Assembly in Canberra to promote a shared approach to build a resilient resource recovery sector and a circular economy.

The National General Assembly is the largest gathering of local councils in Australia, and is attended by mayors, councillors and general managers from Local Governments and Shires across Australia. It is held June 16, 17 and 18 at the Exhibition Centre in Canberra.

At the event, the NWRIC , rep[resenting Australia’s largest waste and recycling companies joined with local government to discuss how practically both can advance the circular economy. Speaking at the Our community, Our environment forum, Ms Rose Read, CEO, NWRIC discussed some of the key aspects of this shared approach.

“Industry and local councils can work together to put recycling back on a sustainable pathway,” Ms Read said. “Central to this shared approach are activities that will reduce contamination such as consistent state-wide community education programs; smarter ways to separate materials at source; removing toxic and dangerous items from bins like batteries and electronics; along with upgrading re-processing capacity at material recovery facilities”.

“These actions will go along way to reducing yellow recycling bin contamination levels from as high as 40% down to less than 4%,” Ms Read added. “The implementation of container deposit schemes has started the decontamination and quality improvement process. Council trials are also underway on source separating glass and paper.”

In addressing plastics, Ms Read identified a number of steps to take, to ensure our material recycling facilities remain viable. “We need to upgrade all our recycling facilities sorting and reprocessing capacity so they can produce higher quality outputs that meet producer specifications.”

“Creating local markets is also key,” Ms Read added. “It is vital that local, state and federal government procure recovered mixed plastics for civil construction and that packaging companies are required to meet minimum recycled content in selected HDPE and PET products and packaging.”

“Another option that needs to be adopted is phasing out single use plastics where no markets or viable substitutes are available.

“There is also a great opportunity to reduce carbon emissions and improve our soils by local councils working with industry in setting up food and organic collection services and composting facilities,” Ms Read said.

“Key to the success of increased organics recovery will be preventing contamination, establishing local markets for the compost produced and planning for recycling precincts in local council areas,” Ms Read concluded.