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NWRIC CEO Week in Review – 18 June

NSW releases 20-year waste strategy

The NSW Government has released its long awaited 20 year waste strategy, the NSW Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy 2041, accompanied by the NSW Plastics Action Plan.

National Waste and Resource Industry Council (NWRIC) CEO Rose Read said now that the Strategy was here there remained several areas to be clarified, including the level of investment.

“The Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy proposes several important measures and targets to help enable NSW to transition to a circular economy, however until the NSW budget is handed down next week the level of investment, particularly new funding, and subsequent scale of impact is unclear.

“Importantly, the Strategy has aligned its targets with the National Waste Action Plan, notably reaching an 80% resource recovery rate by 2030 and reducing total waste generation by 10%. However, given NSW’s recovery rates have remained at just over 60% since 2016, and at a similar level of funding, it is imperative that this new strategy has the right mix of actions and investment to drive the systematic changes needed to shift the dial on resource recovery,” said Ms Read.

Under the Strategy, a formal, five yearly review of the waste levy is to be conducted, however according to Ms Read it is not clear when this will commence.

“The levy has been in place for over 30 years, a review should start within the next 12 months to ensure its application and investment is having the desired effect, especially in the context of the initiatives proposed in the 20 year strategy.

“Currently less than one third of the annual waste levy of over $750 million per annum is invested back into environmental initiatives.   If we are serious about meeting targets and transitioning to a circular economy the community needs greater transparency on how much is collected, its effectiveness and how it is being reinvested to achieve the strategy’s objectives.

“In terms of waste infrastructure, it is encouraging that the NSW Government has flagged that its ‘early priority will be to ensure there is a pipeline of residual waste management infrastructure’. Energy from waste must form part of that infrastructure planning as a legitimate way of managing residual waste,” Ms Read said.

Ms Read said that other announcements in the Strategy including incentivising manufacturers and producers to design out problematic plastics, mandating source separation of food and organic waste from households and selected businesses and for NSW Government departments to preference the use of products that contain recycled content were strong steps in the right direction.

“As set out in the NSW Plastics Action Plan the focus on phasing out problematic single-use plastics by 2025 is welcomed, as is the target of 30% plastic litter reduction by 2025, and the goal to triple the plastics recycling rate by 2030. This focus on plastics is long overdue,” said Ms Read.

“The other notable announcement within the Strategy was the funding of a new joint procurement facilitation service for collecting and processing waste from household bins. This is a good initiative, but it is important that a level playing field and open competition remains for the benefit of both local government, households and the sector.

“Overall, this Strategy recognises the economic and emission reduction opportunities in waste management and resource recovery, reinforcing the shift across industry that we are managers of materials not waste and that these secondary materials enable us to create new products, new markets, new jobs, as well as provide renewable energy sources, reducing emissions and leading the transition to a truly circular economy.

“I’m looking forward to further detail on the funding being allocated to implement the Strategy in next week’s State budget,” Ms Read said.

NWRIC will provide further analysis of the Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy following the handing down of the NSW budget next week.

 

WA Government releases Plan for Plastics

The WA state government has released its Plan for Plastics, banning several single-use plastics by the end of 2021 and other items by the end of 2022.

The Plan for Plastics will be delivered over the short (end of 2021) and medium-term (by the end of 2022) and is proposed to be complemented by voluntary approaches.

Items banned by end 2021 Items banned by end 2022
  • plates
  • bowls
  •  cutlery
  • stirrers
  • straws
  • cups
  • thick plastic bags
  • polystyrene takeaway food containers
  • helium balloon releases
  • barrier/produce bags
  • microbeads
  • polystyrene packaging
  • polystyrene cups
  • coffee cups and lids
  • cotton buds with plastic shafts
  • oxo-degradable plastics (plastics designed to break up more rapidly into fragments under certain conditions).

National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) CEO Rose Read commended the fast tracking of the plan, given the known impact of single-use plastics on the environment and waste streams.

“This is an important move by the Western Australian government to encourage the use of reusable alternatives sooner, thereby reducing the amount of litter in our environment.

“Removing single-use plastics from the waste stream will also assist in reducing contamination and create cleaner feedstock that can be better recycled and reused.

“However, in this instance compliance appears voluntary with a focus on education campaigns and behaviour change programs, and we are looking to get more detail on these arrangements,” Ms Read said.

 

NSW releases finalised Energy from Waste Policy Statement

Following a period of public consultation earlier this year, the NSW Government has finalised its Energy from Waste Policy Statement.

National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) CEO Rose Read said while some proposed emissions limits had been eased, others remained unchanged.

“The policy statement also enables the EPA to set additional emissions limits and conditions on energy recovery facilities. This creates more uncertainty for organisations that are looking to develop facilities that have a very legitimate role in the waste hierarchy in managing residual waste and generating energy,” Ms Read said.

 

Carbon industry code of conduct fully operational from July

Australia’s world-first carbon industry code of conduct is set to be fully operational from 1 July this year.

According to John Connor, CEO of the Carbon Market Institute which administers the voluntary code, the Code “sets out best practice standards that signatories in the carbon industry must adhere to. This increases trust, accountability, transparency and consumer protection in the sector.”

The Code, which defines industry best practice for carbon project developers, currently has 11 foundation signatories and 11 further signatories, with more expected to join once it is formalised on 1 July, 2021.

National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) CEO Rose Read said the Code was a welcome development for the waste and resource recovery industry.

“Australia’s emissions reduction and sequestration industry is growing and reflects community expectations around emissions targets and environmental stewardship.

“For the waste and resource recovery industry, particularly those operating landfills and composting businesses, the Code provides an important guide on best practice when it comes to reducing carbon emissions,” Ms Read said.

A Code Review Panel has also been appointed with a remit of investigating complaints and breaches, enforcing sanctions, and conducting inquiries into compliance.

Next week Sydney will host the Carbon Market Institute’s eighth Australasian Emissions Reduction Summit from 24-25 June at the International Convention Centre (ICC).

The Summit will be a hybrid event of face to face and online knowledge sharing, commercial interaction and capacity building with a theme of Destination Zero…and beyond.