Green group proposes $2B in recycling infrastructure

The collaboration, called the National Recycling Initiative, says this will not only enable existing waste diversion targets to be met, but will create thousands of new jobs and provide a major boost to Australia’s ailing economy.The NRI said the global economic downturn and collapse in demand for recycled commodities had put pressure on every link in the recycling chain. But rather than bunkering down to ride out the storm, the industry has hatched a plan for aggressive growth.The NRI was initiated by the Boomerang Alliance advocacy group, with the support of the Australian Council of Recyclers. The NRI outlines, in broad brush strokes, a package that would encourage private industry to invest in new infrastructure and not only underpin the sector in the long term, but help it lead the Australian economic recovery over the next five years. NRI members have made key pledges to:Retain 10,000 current recycling workers,Inject $2 billion into new infrastructure,Increase recycling by 2 million tonnes a year,Employ 2000 extra direct staff, creating a further 4000 indirect jobs,Increase the value of recyclate exports by $500 million a year,Increase direct contributions to the economy by $1.5 billion a year, leading to some $7 billion in new economic activity.The NRI has effectively combined two existing pieces of industry information to come up with its infrastructure plan. One of these is the market research of the Blue Book, which was co-published by CIN’s sister publication, WME Media, and estimates 157 new facilities will need to be constructed by 2015 if the recycling and landfill diversion targets of the various state governments are to be met.The NRI has drawn together commitments from various industry players to bring forward investment and build those facilities in the next three to five years, so long as governments come to the party with a package of support mechanisms.A Hyder Consulting study of the triple bottom-line benefits of recycling, commissioned by ACOR last year, has been used to determine the flow-on economic benefits of increased recycling – and it is these benefits the NRI is hoping will convince the various levels of government to back the plan. “All the ideas that are on the table are good ideas, they’re all ideas that will happen sooner or later,” said Luke Parker, managing director of metal recycler Sell & Parker, which is an ACOR member and NRI signatory.“The question is whether we want to get the jobs and returns now, or if government is saying ‘no, we’re prepared to wait 10 years for the returns’.”Dave West is coordinating the NRI and says there are a number of ways governments could provide the support required to achieve the promised benefits. He said the group didn’t want to be prescriptive, but was drawing up a package to take to the federal and state governments, including such measures as introducing an accelerated depreciation schedule on new infrastructure.General manager of communications with Sydney-based SITA Environmental Solutions Mike Ritchie said it had been 15 years since there had been a national approach to waste.“The [NRI] sets the foundation for job creation, sustainability and resource recovery,” he said. “This is a task that is bigger than any one state government and this process is about bringing a coordinated effort to the delivery of [required] infrastructure.”West hopes federal Environment Minister Peter Garrett will take NRI plans to the next meeting of the nation’s environment ministers, tying it into the National Waste Strategy already being developed.The official launch of the NRI will take place tomorrow at Visy’s glass recycling facility in Botany, Sydney.

Send this to a friend