Industry and local government stand together to protect household recycling

The National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) and the Australian Local Government Association (ALGA) now stand together to protect household recycling.

At the May 15 NWRIC meeting in Sydney, ALGA President David O’Loughlin met with industry leaders to discuss a solution to the recent import restrictions on recycled materials sent to China. Commonly called the ‘National Sword’ policy, this new Chinese trade restriction is preventing over one million tonnes of paper, plastics and metals from being exported due to the sudden enforcement of a ‘0.5% contamination’ standard.

Industry have now agreed to work closely with local government to quickly respond to this crisis and maintain all scheduled collection services for households. “Households across Australia want to continue recycling,” said NWRIC Chairman Phil Richards. “As such, we are working with the Australian Local Government Association on a strategy to protect this valued service.”

In the short term, new State Government initiatives that reduce contamination are needed to improve product quality – and to prevent further stockpiling. All communities must help respond to this recycling crisis by not putting unrecyclable materials and food waste in their household recycling bin. Only clean metals, glass, paper and hard plastics can be recycled. Our message to communities is; ‘When in doubt – throw it out’.

“Local Government is committed to recycling – it’s good for jobs and the environment,” said David O’Loughlin. “To resolve this crisis all States, Territories and the Commonwealth need to work with us to provide certainty that recovered resources can be profitably utilised within Australia. This is the only way we can ensure the long term success of Australian recycling.”

“In some jurisdictions food waste can be placed in the green bin, leading to greater levels of organic recovery, and increased sales volumes to farmers and wine makers. These programs are a leading example of how to the close the gaps for a circular economy.”

“Once relief funding is in place from State Governments – many of which are sitting on millions in unspent landfill levies – we can commence putting in place new initiatives to create much cleaner materials from household recycling bins,” said Mayor O’Loughlin.

Queensland was the first state to engage with all stakeholders to review it kerbside recycling services. This occured in Bundaberg on April 26 and 27 – and this forum was a significant step towards creating a sustainable recycling service for the sunshine State. Both the NWRIC and the ALGA urge all other states to undertake a similar recycling forum to develop collaborative solutions.