Waste export targets noble, but mandated recycled content essential: NWRIC

The National Waste Recycling Industry Council has said last week’s export ban targets were commendable, but not practical without strengthening markets and infrastructure around waste processing.  


Last week the meeting of state and federal environment ministers set targets to ban glass exports by July next year, mixed plastics by July 2021, and whole and baled tyres by the end of 2021


Procurement targets from governments – for example in specifying crushed glass and other recycled materials in roads and pavements – were badly needed, said NWRIC CEO Rose Read


“This will incentivise industry to build infrastructure to meet demand and create jobs in regions as councils commit to reuse locally produced crushed glass,” she said in a statement.


The group representing commercial waste and recycling operators and claiming 450-plus members also said there was insufficient focus on targets for manufacturers. Recycled content levels need to be set for paper and plastic packaging, according to NWRIC.


“It is unrealistic to have export bans enforced for plastics by July 2021 and paper by June 2022, when the packaging industry and manufacturers are only working to achieve 30 per cent recycled content and 100 per cent recyclable, reusable or compostable by 2025,” said Rose.


“Currently, there is no regulation requiring manufacturers or the packaging industry to achieve these targets or penalties if they don’t. This is far from being equitable.”


The need for more local capacity has been highlighted by groups such as the Australian Council of Recycling, which has said both investment in infrastructure and markets for recycled material need to be boosted.


One expert commented in August on the lack of capacity that, “…there are 193 material recovery facilities in Australia. Most are hand-sorted; nine are semi-automated, and nine are fully automated. These are nowhere near sufficient to sort Australia’s annual recycling.”


Picture: Brenton Edwards/Agence France-Presse


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