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Recycling Bill enters Parliament

Written by John Gertsakis on 27 August 2020

Recycling and waste reduction continue to receive unprecedented attention in Australia as governments seek to build a thriving industry that is better equipped to transform waste products and materials into value-added resources.

The Australian Government has today introduced new  legislation that sees Australia take greater responsibility for its waste and establishes a national industry framework for recycling.

The Recycling and Waste Reduction Bill 2020 will phase in the end of the 645,000 tonnes of unprocessed plastic, paper, glass and tyres that Australia ships overseas each year.

At the same time the reforms to the regulation of product stewardship will incentivise companies to take greater environmental responsibility for the products they manufacture and what happens to those products and materials at the end of their life.

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the Bill will see the implementation of the export ban on waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres agreed by Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments in March this year.

“This is about tackling a national environmental issue that has been buried in landfill or shipped offshore for far too long,” Minister Ley said. That is why the Morrison Government is the first federal government to place waste firmly on the national agenda.

“This is a once in a generation opportunity to remodel waste management, reduce pressure on our environment and create economic opportunity as we move to a circular economy with a strong market for recycled materials.

“Our $190 million Recycling Modernisation Fund and our actions under the National Waste Policy Action Plan will create 10,000 new jobs over the next 10 years – that is a 32 per cent increase in jobs in the Australian waste and recycling sector.

“We are introducing legislation; we are driving a billion-dollar transformation of Australia’s waste and recycling capacity and we are investing in new technologies and new ideas to transform recycling and reprocessing.”

Accelerating product stewardship activity

Product stewardship has also received a boost through specific adjustments and enhancements under the Recycling and Waste Reduction Bill.

Assistant Minister Evans said the legislation will improve the existing framework for product stewardship by encouraging companies to take greater responsibility for the waste they generate through the products they design, manufacture or distribute.

“We are making it easier for industry to set up and join in product stewardship schemes. Yet where voluntary product stewardship schemes are not effective, or where they are not created in priority areas, the government will have new tools to intervene and regulate,” Assistant Minister Evans said.

“Our legislative changes will transform our waste industry, meaning increased recycling and remanufacturing of waste materials which will create new industry and generate more jobs.”

The Bill and associated package of funding and investment heralds a new era in Australia’s approach to waste management. It reflects a more considered approach aimed at improving our ability to process and manage waste in-country while also maximising the business opportunities resulting from industry-led product stewardship schemes.

Effective implementation across all levels of government and industry will be key to measurable success, as will an informed public demanding environmentally improved products and services built around circular economy principles.

The future of waste reduction, reuse and recycling in Australia is forging new territory based on nationwide collaboration, innovation and the need for manufacturers to take greater responsibility for their products and materials across the the supply chain from cradle to cradle.

The Australian Government’s media release can be viewed here.

The Recycling and Waste Reduction Bill 2020 can be downloaded here.

 

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