The WA government’s commitment of $20 million to boost the states capacity for local processing of waste plastic and tyres came just a day after the federal government released details of its Recycling Modernisation Fund (RMF).
$15 million dollars of the funding will be provided to support local processing of plastics and tyres and the development of infrastructure in the north of the state. Access will also be provided to industrial zoned land valued at $5 million for processing infrastructure.
The announcement follows the March 2020 Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting, which confirmed a timetable for phasing out waste exports and building domestic infrastructure to support reuse and recycling.
In a statement by acting WA environment minister Francis Logan, industry was advised that the funding would need to be matched or exceeded by industry investment. This would take the total combined investment in local processing beyond $60 million.
As a result, organisations able to support new processing infrastructure, including projects in regional and remote Western Australia are now eligible for grants.
These will be considered for projects that can help in the domestic processing of plastics and whole tyres currently collected in Western Australia.
The government said that it was looking for proposals for economically viable projects that utilise best-practice methodology, know-how and technology, achieve value for money and maximise industry financial contributions. Grant applications close at 9am AWST, August 17.
Logan said that the funding is good for WA jobs as well as the environment. “We know we can deliver three times more jobs when we recycle better.
“Analysis from the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicates that in WA, around 12,500 tonnes of plastics and 7,000 tonnes of tyres would be captured as result of the export ban on certain wastes. This represents a huge opportunity for industry in WA.
This funding follows more than $20 million already provided annually to fund waste related programs and initiatives from the Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Account.
WA needs to do more
However, Waste Management and Resource Recovery (WMRR) CEO, Gayle Sloan, noted that in order to maximise investments and positively build local remanufacturing and reprocessing, WA requires several key elements that are currently missing.
“As well as fast tracking planning approval for successful facilities, the WA government needs to go further than the welcome funding and work with industry to urgently develop end markets for reprocessed and remanufactured materials.
“WA needs a robust regulatory and legislative framework that will underpin circularity, it needs a new modernised regulatory framework that guides the process by which a ‘waste’ becomes a ‘resource’, and it needs to mandate the procurement of recycled material across all government projects now, economically viable projects that not only rely on capital investment but ongoing income.
“As WA is currently undergoing long overdue legislative reforms as part of its Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Strategy, now is the time to develop frameworks that will support the establishment of viable on-shore reprocessing, remanufacturing, and end markets for post-consumer recyclate,” Sloan added.
“WA is heavily reliant on exporting material to overseas markets and with those markets being closed soon, it is vital that WA accelerates work to develop a viable industry which will lead to local jobs in WA.”