In July the Commonwealth announced a $600m investment in recycling by government and industry. This followed the decision to ban the export of products and materials for ‘recycling’ overseas. Glass is now banned with mixed plastics to follow in July 2021, with used tyres, single resin plastics and unsorted paper/cardboard in 2021-2024.
Boomerang Alliance welcomed both the investment in domestic recycling and the proposed export bans. However, these measures won’t be effective without certain other actions by governments.
In 2019 the Boomerang Alliance, Australian Council of Recyclers and the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association agreed a five point plan to solve Australia's recycling problems following the banning of exports of wasted materials for 'recycling'.
That plan included investment in new and upgraded recycling infrastructure, a 'buy recycled' program with government procurement policies that met recycled content goals, a strengthened product stewardship act, policies to eliminate problem plastics and new metrics on waste data to accurately record recovery statistics.
The July statement by the Commonwealth to invest in recycling capacity (Recycling Modernisation Plan) is a step in the right direction but is hampered and held back by what's missing from the governments' plan. The government has got in the car and turned the engine on, it now needs to get the car into gear and get it moving.
Banning the export of waste products for recycling and investing in a renewed domestic recycling sector will make a difference. Now we need all governments to set new rules on procurement for recycled content and a consistent program on single-use plastic bans and recovery options.