Commonwealth must not take a back seat on new waste policy

The Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) is urging for continued national leadership from the Commonwealth to ensure consistent intergovernmental policy for waste management and resource recovery following endorsement of the new National Waste Policy (NWP) at the 8th Meeting of Environment Ministers in Canberra last Friday.

ALGA President, Mayor David O’Loughlin, attended the meeting and said: “We congratulate the Environment Ministers on the delivery of Australia’s new National Waste Policy, but the job is not done yet.

“The new policy may be full of good intentions and strong principles, but has as much backbone as you’ll find in the average plastic shopping bag.

“Urgent action is needed as Ministers themselves have acknowledged.

“Industry and communities need to see real on-ground action and there is a critical need for national leadership to maintain a unified approach.

“Dedicated and nationally-coordinated action on recycling will give industry the signal it needs to increase investment in sustainable resource recovery and support the nation’s move towards a circular economy.

“89% of Australians have indicated that they want recycled content included in government procurement.

“It is essential that councils, federal, state and territory governments increase their procurement of goods and infrastructure that incorporate recycled materials – such as those used in road bases – which will help to reduce items entering the waste stream in the first place and create jobs.”

Mayor O’Loughlin said that there are already many local governments paying for innovative products made entirely or partly from recycled materials, but that state and territory governments also need to take the necessary steps to help the recyclate industry sector go further.

“There is more than $1 billion sitting in state waste levy funds that could be invested in industry innovation, pilot projects and financially supporting transitions from virgin product feedstock to recycled feedstock.

“There’s another $1 billion to be collected next year, but the meeting achieved no strong policy commitment, no agreement on concrete targets or timeframes, miniscule investment and little progress.

“Let’s work together over the next few months, years and beyond to fulfill the vision of a sustainable future – one that supports jobs, local businesses and the environment.”