Industry News

Varying waste association scorecards rate parties’ election promises  

Various waste associations have released reports cards, detailing the pros and the cons of Australia’s major political parties’ promises to the industry.

On Wednesday, speaking from the Waste 2019 conference, Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) CEO Gayle Sloan said for the first time, Australian parties are putting waste on the agenda.

“We are so integral in society and we probably haven’t had our place,” she said.

But with parties such as National party, the Labor party and the Australian Greens taking waste on in their election promises, Sloan said it is a step in the right direction.

On May 9, WMRR released a scorecard that compares these major players’ promises to better manage waste in Australia, improve recycling capabilities and to provide new funding within the industry.

The scorecard challenges these parties, and while many waste associations welcomed the recognition by government at a federal level, they say there is always more that can be done.

On May 15, a report card was released by industry associations in the recycling, resource recovery and waste management sectors, with independent consultancy support by Equilibrium. Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR), Australian Industrial Ecology Network (AIEN), Australian Organics Recycling Association (AORA), and National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) rallied together to give their take on the major parties’ promises to the waste industry.

The report card released by the above associations, using a criterion-based analysis and independent scoring evaluation of all three parties’ policies, determined that all have provided good to strong commitments to:

  • Upgrading and supporting innovative recycling infrastructure,
    • Establishing local markets for recycled content through government procurement,
    • Ensuring producers step up and meet their responsibilities for the life cycle of products, and,
    • Dealing with plastic pollution.

However, these associations found fewer or minor commitments to aspects establishing a circular economy that avoids waste and improves consumption choices, and putting in place necessary policy and regulatory arrangements at the national level for consistent achievement of objectives across jurisdictions.

ACOR CEO Pete Shmigel said recycling is the overall winner as there is an unprecedented, tri-partisan and substantive response to the pressure being felt in municipal recycling from Asia and to growing community expectations.

“Taken as a whole, these policies recognise the landfill diversion, greenhouse gas reduction and jobs creation benefits of our $20 billion and 50,000 job industry. ACOR supports their across-the-board emphasis on recycling infrastructure development so we can make more recycled content products in Australia,” he said.

NWRIC CEO Rose Read said the NWRIC supports commitments made in particular by the Labor party in response to a call for a national waste commissioner.

“This role is key to driving the national waste policy, collaboration across all levels of government; ensuring targets are set and met, and more regulatory consistency between states. However, the NWRIC is concerned with the lack of commitment by the major parties to use the co-regulatory powers of the Product Stewardship Act for batteries and all electronics,” she said.