• Federal and state environment ministers met in Adelaide to develop waste strategies. (Image: Department of the Environment and Energy on Twitter)
    Federal and state environment ministers met in Adelaide to develop waste strategies. (Image: Department of the Environment and Energy on Twitter)

Federal and state environment ministers have developed a new National Waste Policy Action Plan, and aim to ban exports of waste by 2022, in moves applauded by APCO.

Friday’s meeting of environment ministers in Adelaide resulted in a plan to phase out waste exports from 2020-22, starting with waste glass in July of next year, then mixed waste plastics by July 2021; all whole tyres including baled tyres by December 2021; and remaining waste products including paper and board by no later than 30 June 2022.

This comes alongside the National Waste Policy Action Plan, which sets out targets the ministers say will help Australia become a world leader in recycling. These include 80 per cent recovery rate of material across all waste systems, reducing waste generated in Australia by 10 per cent per person, and halving the amount of organic waste sent to landfill by 2030; phasing out problematic and unnecessary single-use packaging by 2025; and significantly increasing government procurement of recycled materials.

According to the ministers, the Commonwealth will take the lead in looking for opportunities to procure recycled materials, and report back at the next meeting of environment ministers.

“The Commonwealth Government will prioritise work with states and territories and relevant industry and standards bodies to develop engineering specifications and standards to support the use of recycled materials in building, construction and infrastructure development, for use across all jurisdictions.

“A cross-sector reference group involving government, non-government organisations, industry groups and business representatives will also be established to review progress on the Action Plan’s implementation,” they said.

Brooke Donnelly, APCO CEO
Brooke Donnelly, APCO CEO

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) has applauded the plan, calling it a positive step forward for Australia’s waste management and resource recovery system.

“APCO was involved closely during the consultation and evolution of this approach and is proud to be identified as a key delivery partner for a range of actions moving forward. In particular, we look forward to working with Planet Ark Environmental Foundation to develop and launch the Circular Economy Hub online platform and marketplace.

“We acknowledge the support of ministers as we strive to be more ambitious, and in particular work with industry and key stakeholders to develop a revised target for the use of recycled content in all packaging.

“In practical terms, today’s announcement reinforces the collective efforts of the entire supply chain, including APCO’s Members, to deliver a truly sustainable packaging system for Australia, as we continue the transition to a circular economy,” the organisation said.

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