A National Strategy for Waste & Recycling can serve all Australians

The National Waste Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) welcomes the new waste and recycling policies offered by Labor leader Bill Shorten and Shadow Minister Tony Burke this week, but also calls for a bi-partisan approach to advancing the industry.

On Sunday 31 March, the Federal Labor Party released its plan for a cleaner Australia. The plan sets out a number of priorities which will enhance waste and recycling services for all Australians. In particular, the NWRIC praises:

A national approach to container deposit schemes. This includes inviting, but not mandating that Victoria and Tasmania to become part of an integrated national scheme.

The announcement of a National Waste Commissioner, funded for $15 million over six years.

Expansion of product stewardship schemes to include more e-waste, batteries and white goods.

$60 million for a National Recycling Fund, and

Setting targets for government purchasing of recycled goods.

The commitment to provide an additional $10 billion in capital for the CEFC over five years from 2019-20.

This announcement by Labor also follows a commitment in its national policy platform to; “work with State and Territory governments to coordinate a national approach to waste … to capture the economic opportunities of a harmonised and strategic national waste reduction and recycling policies that include appropriate [energy recovery] technologies.”

In addition, Labor has committed to establish a Federal EPA, and a new Australian Environment Act, to replace the current Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. This new act will aim to tackle “inefficiencies, delays and hurdles in the current law,” giving business more certainty while protecting the environment.

Currently there are eight different sets of laws and regulations governing waste management and recycling across Australia’s six States and two Territories.

“Every household and business in the nation purchases waste services, and most purchase recycling services. Therefore, the Commonwealth can cut costs for all Australians by creating national, high quality regulations covering waste and recycling,” said Rose Read, CEO of the NWRIC.

“The National Waste Recycling Industry Council is calling for a bi-partisan approach to harmonising the regulations protecting our industry. This process has been a clear success for work health and safety and heavy vehicle laws.”

Despite these welcome changes, the National Waste Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) is concerned that Labor has committed to roll back the Emissions Reduction Fund (ERF). Conversely, the Coalition has committed $2 billion to the successor of the ERF – the Climate Solutions Fund. Through the ERF, a number of leading recycling initiatives have been funded, including returning composting to soils and harvesting renewable energy from biogas. Industry calls for the protection of this important program.

“Waste and recycling services are essential to all Australians. Therefore, it is critical that whichever party wins the upcoming Federal election – they work proactively with industry to create jobs, serve communities, protect workers and reduce pollution.”