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Recycling and Waste Reduction Bill 2020 introduced into Commonwealth Parliament

UPDATE – 22nd December 2020

This month the Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020 became law. The new legislation will implement the Australian Governments’ (i.e. federal, states and territories) joint 2020 commitment to ban the export of waste glass, plastics, tyres and paper.

The export of waste glass is now regulated under these new laws. From 1 January 2021 exporters will no longer be able to send unprocessed waste glass overseas. The Recycling and Waste Reduction (Export – Waste Glass) Rules 2020 and explanatory statement was also gazetted this week and describes the circumstances in which exporters can obtain permits to ship this type of glass overseas for specific uses.

Exporters of processed waste glass will need to hold a waste glass export licence. Applications for an export licence can be made online using the Waste Export and Licensing Declaration portal.

Rules for waste plastics, tyres and paper will be phased in over time. Rules for plastics will come into effect on 1 July 2021 (stage 1) and 1 July 2022 (stage 2); tyres on 1 December 2021; and paper on 1 July 2024. Exporters of these materials will need a licence to export by the required date.

Information on transitioning to the regulation of exports of waste plastic, tyres and paper can be found at https://www.environment.gov.au/protection/waste/exports/transition.

UPDATE – 14 September 2020

Click here to view NWRIC’s response to the Senate inquiry into the Recycling and Waste Reduction Bills 2020.

Original News Item – 28 August 2020

On 27 August the Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment introduced the Recycling and Waste Reduction Bill 2020 into Parliament.

The Bill sees the implementation of the export ban on waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres agreed by Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments in March this year as well as refinement of the current product stewardship act to further incentivise and encourage companies to take greater responsibility of the products they make and for the products and materials at their end of life.

The NWRIC considers the introduction of this Bill as a significant element of the reform process that can contribute to achieving a circular economy.  Most importantly this step by the Australian Government acknowledges that waste and recycling services are an essential service. In addition, they constitute a vital resource industry that makes a substantial economic contribution to the nation. It is an industry that has great potential to strengthen Australia’s resource security, generate clean energy, create jobs and protect the environment.

The raft of measures and initiatives currently in play are creating much needed momentum for positive systemic change. The Commonwealth’s Recycling Modernisation Fund, the National Waste Policy Action Plan, the National Product Stewardship Investment Fund and CRC-P funding for R&D, are collectively shaping a more coherent approach to how waste management and resource recovery should be planned and managed in Australia.

The NWRIC is still reviewing the details of the Bill within the context of feedback it provided on the draft bill in July, especially in regard to definitions, objects, charges and the Minister’s Priority Product List. The NWRIC is eager to see evidence that industry’s views are being understood, acknowledged and acted upon.

The NWRIC advocates for stronger national leadership and coordination across several key areas of activity, including market development, infrastructure planning, product stewardship, harmonisation of state waste and recycling regulations, plus increased investment of landfill levies back into the waste and recycling infrastructure, education and compliance.

The actions of the current Commonwealth Government, in particular Assistant Minister Evans, Minister Ley and the Prime Minister, have gone a long way to demonstrating national leadership and state coordination.

Nonetheless, there are still some key aspects of the reform process that demand detailed attention and completion including; creating markets for recovered materials through government procurement and requiring companies to increase recycled content in products and packaging, including imported goods.

Greater coordination of waste and recycling infrastructure planning across all levels of government and investment of the $1.5 billion state landfill levies collected annually, is also an outstanding area of work needing further development. Cleaning up what is collected by harmonising collection bin contents, urgently establishing a regulated battery recycling program and removing hazardous substances like PFAS from products, are obvious imperatives at this time. Focused action is also required to harmonise waste and recycling data, definitions, movement tracking, landfill levies and licensing.

The Recycling and Waste Reduction Bill 2020 is a key element to building a circular economy. Its success and sustainability will require commitment to timely and efficient implementation. The NWRIC looks forward to working closely with the Australian Government to deliver practical action over the coming months and years. To view the Bill and its progress click here.