Climate change, carbon markets and the waste and resource recovery industry

As the UK prepares to host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP26) in Glasgow and accelerate action towards the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, closer to home all eyes are on a target of net-zero emissions and related policies.

National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) CEO Rose Read said in the last week two significant reports had been released drawing attention to the industry’s contribution to emissions reduction as well as opportunity for further involvement as we move towards decarbonising the economy.

“Increasing resource recovery through measures such as landfill gas capture and moving to more renewable energy sources is something the waste and resource recovery industry is already focused on to help achieve net zero emissions, but there is still a way to go.

“Both the Grattan Institute and Carbon Market Institute have reported on proposed targets to reach net zero emissions, along with the practical policies required to offset carbon emissions as well as covering the business community’s perspective,” said Ms Read.

  • Grattan Institute Report on offsetting carbon emissions

The Grattan Institute has released a new report on offsetting carbon emissions, outlining a number of policy recommendations required if Australia is to reach its goal of net zero emissions by 2050.

The report outlines six key recommendations focused on the role and integrity of offsetting, international markets and market creation and support of negative emissions technology that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Analysis of achieving net zero and what it means for the economy, including how complementary approaches of emissions reductions and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere can achieve net zero is covered in the report, along with the market for offsetting units in Australia and how governments can be involved.

  • Carbon Market Institute finds strong support for net-zero before 2050

The Carbon Market Institute (CMI) has released a survey of business executives finding that 65% believe Australia should achieve net-zero before 2050.

The CMI notes that net zero emissions targets now cover 70% of the global economy, including every G7 country and contends that of ‘greatest concern’ is that Australia still does not have adequate decarbonisation or emissions reduction policies. It also notes that ‘Australia’s sequestration and carbon market related policy architecture is world leading’.

Further results from the survey include:

  • 27% considered Australia should reach net-zero by 2035, while 30% favour net-zero by 2040, and 8% would prefer 2045 as the target date – totalling 65%.
  • 32% backed a 2050 deadline. All up, 97% of respondents consider Australia should achieve net-zero by no later than 2050, with only 3% preferring a later timeframe.
  • 52% of respondents are concerned that Australia does not have enough carbon credits to meet domestic demand over the next three to five years.
  • 66% of respondents expect the price of Australian Carbon Credit Units to be greater than $40 per tonne by 2030.


Resource recovery industry response to COVID-19 applauded as restrictions ease

As the situation regarding COVID-19 continues to evolve and with some states emerging from lockdowns as vaccination rates hit targets, it’s a timely reminder of the enormous effort from the waste and resource recovery industry in ensuring the continuity of essential services.

National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) CEO Rose Read thanked all staff and businesses for their commitment to best practice and ability to change and adapt to the circumstances.

“Over the past 18 months, for companies and staff to keep services going, protect staff, implement and support the vaccination program has been a tremendous display of resilience.

“As lockdowns ease it will be important that both Victoria and New South Wales align their policies on how close contacts and requirements for 14-day isolation are managed in the context of vaccinations, mask wearing and social distancing protocols.

“Consistency for the industry is vital, particularly where operations cross borders, and that means ensuring a sensible risk-based management approach to COVID exposures, similar to that with supermarkets, to ensure business continuity and viability,” said Ms Read.


Veolia’s Richard Kirkman to speak at Waste Expo Australia

Veolia ANZ MD and CEO Richard Kirkman will present at Waste Expo Australia’s 2021 online conference at the Waste Policy and Innovation session on 19th October from 1pm to 2.30pm.

His presentation ‘Getting to 80% Resource Recovery Rate by 2030’ will examine if the policy, regulatory and financial settings at a national and state level are right to drive the systemic changes needed to reach 80% Resource Recovery by 2030.

Other speakers in the session which is being chaired by Mike Ritchie, MD of MRA Consulting include:

  • Ministerial address by Hon Lily D’Ambrosio, Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Minister for Solar Homes, Victorian Government on the ten-year plan to boost recycling, reduce waste and create jobs
  • Lee Miezis, CEO of the EPA in Victoria on stronger powers to prevent harm from pollution and waste
  • Claire Ferres Miles, CEO at Sustainability Victoria on Commodities not waste- designing a circular value chain of regenerative resources

To register for the session click here.  The Waste Expo Virtual Conference will be held online from 19- 21 October 2021.


Sustainability Victoria seeking input on their 2030 strategy

Sustainability Victoria has released SV2030, its organisational strategy for 2021-2030 that sets out its vision to act on sustainability as well as proposed three core focus areas.

The public consultation for SV2030: A Decade of Action is now live on Engage Victoria and open until Wednesday, 17 November 2021.

National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) CEO Rose Read encouraged industry to participate in the consultation.

“The strategy includes three focus areas; investment and innovation, behaviour change and education, and community action.

“It’s important that industry and business have their say on how the strategy proposes to accelerate Victoria’s transition to a circular, climate resilient clean economy and how the important target of 80% resource recovery is going to be met,” said Ms Read.


E-Stewardship in Australia Evidence Report identifies resource recovery opportunities and hotspots

Earlier this year, the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) commissioned Iceni and Lifecycles to undertake modelling to develop the quantitative foundation to inform the department’s work program on e-stewardship.

The work included updating an earlier model to provide up-to-date evaluations of the amounts of different e-products placed on the market, and e-waste generated annually in Australia now and into the future. The work also extended the model with detailed breakdowns of the materials in different e-product categories to estimate the value of materials: both in terms of dollars and embodied greenhouse gas emissions.

The report found that:

  • the vast majority of solar PV and battery storage, lighting equipment, and other small equipment e-waste goes to landfill.
  • The bulk of e-waste for large household appliances, temperature exchange equipment, and other large equipment go through some form of low efficiency recycling to recover metals.
  • Around 50 per cent of TV and computing equipment e-waste goes through high efficiency recycling, reflecting the impact of the NTCRS, while the other 50 per cent goes to landfill.
  • Mobile phones are an anomaly with most broken or obsolete phones stocked at home, thereby creating a challenge but also an opportunity to get these phones out of people’s homes and recover the valuable materials within them.

From the model it is estimated that around $680 million worth of materials is being sent to landfill and only 18% or $145 million of the potential total estimated value of e-waste of about $820 million is being realised.  Around 80 per cent of e-waste collected is going to low efficiency recycling.

The investigation also modelled two future scenarios on increasing recycling to 80% and extending the lift of e-products by 10%.

Increasing recycling to 80% and more high efficiency recycling systems would result in an additional 140,000 tonnes of materials being recycled with an estimated recovered value of $440 million that would also save an estimated 2.5 million tonnes of CO2e.

The report also found that the carbon emission reduction benefits of recycling e-waste is significant where for each kg of CO2e emitted during recycling processes, 18 kg CO2e is recovered through the production of secondary material.

A full copy of the report is be found on the DAWE website and the model is available on request by emailing or