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Resource recovery named as a High Priority by Infrastructure Australia

Infrastructure Australia (IA) has identified resource recovery as one of 6 High Priority Projects within the latest edition of its Infrastructure Priority List and called for a national waste and recycling management strategy.  The organisation said that this initiative would boost Australia’s recycling rate from its present level of 55 per cent to the target of 70 per cent set out in the 2014-21 waste avoidance and resource recovery strategy.

Infrastructure Australia proposed that the national strategy would involve co-ordination between all levels of government and the market to identify a program of investment in new waste recovery and reprocessing infrastructure.

The organsation said that this aims to meet the long-term needs of Australians and to foster innovation and adoption of emerging technologies.

The inclusion of resource recovery in the High Priority List was based on these constraints:

  • Lack of space for transfer facilities.
  • The ability of material recovery facilities to process and sort co-mingled, highly contaminated waste (particularly for communities in remote and regional Australia).
  • Underdeveloped domestic reuse markets as a result of previous over-reliance on the export of waste to international markets.

The List said that the environmental costs of greenhouse gases and leachate from recyclable waste entering landfill are significant and are set to rise with a growing population.

In addition, limited landfill capacity and sorting facilities are increasing logistics costs as waste is being transferred greater distances for processing and disposal.

IA chair Julieanne Alroe, explained that the Priority List was supported by a robust evidence base, developed using data from the 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit which included more than 200 received in the past twelve months.

“In the wake of the bushfire crisis, the floods of early 2019 and the drought, a new wave of infrastructure investment was critical to rebuilding for affected communities. She added that as we enter a new decade of infrastructure, it is essential that we plan for resilience in our infrastructure network based on a stronger understanding of these risks.”

Alroe added that compared to the 2015 Audit, the 2019 Audit took a greater focus on user outcomes, in terms of access, quality and cost for Australian communities, and an expanded scope that considered social infrastruture.

IA chief executive, Romilly Madew said the Infrastructure Priority List also reflected the diversity of our nation’s future infrastructure needs.

“Resilience was a key theme of our 2019 Australian Infrastructure Audit and this focus continues to be reflected in our latest edition of the Infrastructure Priority List,” she said

“As an independent advisory body, it’s our role to bring these problems and opportunities into the national spotlight to spark investment and coordinated action from industry and government.”

The latest edition of the Priority List identifies a project pipeline worth more than $58 billion –including 6 High Priority Projects and 17 Priority Projects.