A virtual meeting of National Environment Ministers has focussed on national environmental priorities including: the implementation of the National Waste Policy Action Plan; climate adaptation and resilience, bushfire recovery and resilience; and, progress on environmental regulation and reform.
When it came to the National Waste Policy Plan, collaboration was a key theme.
National Waste Policy Action Plan
Environment Ministers agreed to work collaboratively to improve the harmonisation of municipal waste collection, taking the first step within each state through the implementation of standards within each jurisdiction for kerbside recycling, and a national implementation road map that considers costs and benefits.
The Ministers agreed in principle to support a roll out of Food Organics and Garden Organics (FOGO) waste collection services in partnership with the Commonwealth to address current gaps in waste collection streams.
To provide greater certainty for industry, Ministers have identified eight ‘problematic and unnecessary’ plastic product types for industry to phase out nationally by 2025 (or sooner in some cases) under the National Waste Policy Action Plan. These are lightweight plastic bags; plastic products misleadingly termed as ‘degradable’; plastic straws; plastic utensils and stirrers; expanded polystyrene (EPS) consumer food containers (e.g. cups and clamshells); EPS consumer goods packaging (loose fill and moulded); and microbeads in personal health care products.
With respect to Container Deposit Schemes Ministers also agreed to harmonisation for the containers (size and products) across jurisdictions, refund amounts, standards for labelling, and community education by the end of 2025, ensuring consistent recycling collection strategies across all states.