Industry leaders mixed reaction to Waste Response Strategy

The COAG Waste Response Strategy has drawn mixed response from senior leaders who, on the whole welcome the strategy, but are concerned that the implementation is unclear and that fast-tracking of specific actions was essential.

The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) said it applauded the strategy, stating that it illustrated a depth of understanding and recognition of the needs of sustainable waste and resource recovery industry in Australia. WMRR CEO Gayle Sloan, said that members felt encouraged to see that governments were in it for the long haul.

Processing facilities needed now

However, she added that it was imperative to fast track infrastructure because there was only two years until the roll-out of the plastics ban and a significant volume of waste plastic to be managed. As a result, Australia needs to start building processing facilities now for them to be up and running ahead of 2022.

“The strategy not only acknowledges that waste plastic is a significant and complex issue, it also takes positive initial steps in mapping out what all jurisdictions must do to tackle this challenge.

Beginning with harmonising policies and programs to phase out single-use and hard to recycle plastics, to the Commonwealth supporting industry to invest in new plastics processing capacity through competitive grant funding, and commercial and concessional loans. These are all incredibly positive steps,” Sloan said.

She added that WMRR also welcomed the funding commitments by states, including WA’s $15 million provision to support local processing of plastics and tyres and $5 million for access to industrial zoned land, and ‘Recycling Victoria’ announced prior to the COAG meeting.

“WMRR appreciates that the federal, state and territory governments are listening and that our essential waste and resource recovery sector remains firmly on the agenda. As we work through the strategy, the industry is committed to working closely with all levels of government to ensure a smooth and successful implementation of the bans, and ultimately, to develop a strong re-manufacturing and reprocessing sector in Australia, driving the country towards a more circular economy,” Sloan said.

However, Waste Contractors & Recyclers Association of NSW (WCRA), executive director Tony Khoury, was more circumspect. He told Inside Waste that he couldn’t find anything in the documentation that detailed how the export bans would be enforced.

 

Without proper enforcement, he explained, there was a high probability of non-compliance, with good recycling operators placed at a significant disadvantage.

 

Lack of reference

Khoury also pointed to a lack of reference or commitment to any specific form of funding, stating that as there are three levels of government involved, querying the funding for infrastructure, public education, consistency, and enforcement.  He said that the document ignored the issues of existing contracts and, if these bans proceeded, collection and processing contracts could require variation and again, it was unclear who would fund the variations.

 

“Industry has long argued that a greater proportion of NSW waste levy revenue be committed to support recycling. WCRA recently presented DPIE and the NSW Government with recommendations on how NSW waste levy funds can be used to better support recycling, “Tony Khoury.

 

At this time, WCRA has not received a reply to these recommendations.

 

“The COAG documentation is silent on the impacts that these export bans will have on competition in the Australian recycling market. In some cases, the export bans will result in market control by one processor, for example mixed paper & cardboard. WCRA supports the referral by NWRIC to the ACCC for the competition watchdog to investigate this matter.

 

“There is no commitment in the documentation to government procurement policies that will give preference to Australian recycled content. On one-hand the COAG decision seeks to control what can or cannot be exported from Australia, whilst ignoring what is being imported into Australia.”

“WCRA supports the intent of COAG’s objectives and we also do not support the export of waste products. We applaud COAG for its decision in allowing the export of clean paper/cardboard and that bus, truck and aviation tyres be exported for re-treading to a verified re-treading facility.

But he concluded that the key answered question is which Government Department in Australia would be responsible for signing-off on whether a tyre re-treading facility is lawful, legitimate or otherwise?”

National Waste Recycling Council (NWRC) CEO Rose Read also told Inside Waste that the strategy was a positive move to bring all states together and align with national plans.

“The national response is a very positive initiative by COAG and it clearly puts waste into the category of an essential service. Waste recovery is now being viewed as a supply chain resource and this response acknowledges that business can get materials back into the stream which are delivering added value.

Read said that the national change in thinking about waste as a resource instead of a problem, was a significant paradigm shift that now needed to permeate all levels of government, councils, business and the community.

“Sequencing the demand for these resources in time for industry to use recycled products in construction is critical.”

Despite the funding challenges faced by the governments with the existing COVI-19 crisis, Read was confident that there was enough investment capability within the private sector and from the landfill levy that could underwrite the actions required to more the strategy forward.

 

Historic COAG Waste Response Strategy sets the stage for immediate action

The first target of the Waste Response Strategy issued by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) last week is to ban the export of plastic, paper, tyres and glass waste between July 2020 and December 2024.

All waste glass will be banned by July 2020, mixed waste plastics by July 2021, all whole tyres including baled tyres by December 2021 and remaining waste products, including mixed paper and cardboard, by no later than 30 June 2022.

COAG clearly stated that the Commonwealth has committed to improving the quality of waste streams, driving demand, supporting investment and leading by example in projects to significantly increase Australia’s recycling rates. It has also committed to collaborating with states and territories that do the same.

It said that our domestic waste and recycling sector needs to be futureproofed and resourced to deliver the waste reduction and recycling outcomes that the community expects.

“Without changes driven by all Australian governments, there is an ongoing risk of stockpiling and illegal waste dumping, rising landfill rates and subsequent greenhouse gas emissions, and business closures as trading markets and the value of materials change,” the statement said.

COAG said that the response strategy is intended to do two things: the first is to explain what the export ban involves, which materials are affected, and the timeframes for implementation.

The second is to set out the system-level and material-specific challenges and complementary actions needed by all levels of government and industry to support transition to the ban and drive broader long-term change in Australia’s waste and recycling sector. Based on the challenges and opportunities outlined in this document, Commonwealth, state and territory governments will announce specific commitments in the lead up to the ban’s commencement.

 Developing markets

According to the strategy, market analysis demonstrates that a key benefit of the export ban is the certainty that it creates for industry. It said that a predictable phased ban, rather than sudden and unpredictable changes in export markets, can assist to reduce further shocks to the waste and recycling sector.

Already there has been a flurry of federal and state initiatives released in the past month and the strategy also stated that, based on the challenges and opportunities outlined in this document, Commonwealth, state and territory governments would announce specific commitments in the lead up to the ban’s commencement.

Historic change

Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley described the strategy as representing an historic change for the environment and the recycling industry. She said that the ban signaled a generational transformation of the recycling industry that could generate $1.5 billion in economic activity over the next 20 years and more than 2000 jobs.

Ley added that the ban was the result of months of consultation with industry, state and local governments, and it represents a fundamental change that recognises waste as resource instead of a problem.

“This is about waking up to an issue that has been buried in landfill for too long,” Ley said.

“Most importantly, it is about Australia saying it is our waste and our responsibility and it is about industry and government being prepared to invest in change,” she added.

The strategy was also clear regarding the challenges facing the waste industry, the governments and the community in pivoting to a new paradigm. It has detailed initial steps in mapping out what all jurisdictions (Inside Waste will detail these in our April/May magazine) must do to tackle these challenges:

  •  Address waste origins and generation

There are opportunities for industry and governments to contribute to changing the materials we use in everyday products, in order to reduce the total volume of low-value or hard to recycle material in the waste stream. Where possible, the best outcome is for waste to be managed, processed and returned to productive economic use close to its point of generation.

  • Kerbside waste collection

This is a significant issue which impacts on the sustainability of collection systems, the value of recycled materials, and the ability for materials to go to their highest value use.

Despite strong community interest and willingness to support strong recycling outcomes, consumer awareness of the ‘right’ way to recycle is limited and there is no consistent approach to labelling to assist the community to determine whether a product is recyclable in Australia.

Additionally, it said that households face mixed messages about what materials can be recycled, as requirements are often local government specific based on which materials recovery facility receives the recycling.

  • Drive domestic demand for recycled products

Increased demand for recyclable materials as inputs for processing, and for products manufactured from these materials, is needed to make new recycling capacity cost effective. Consistent quality and performance standards and specifications can assist in driving industry and household confidence in the use of recycled content and the value of recycled products.

  • Understand resource volumes, value and movement

Governments have been working collaboratively for several years to improve the availability, consistency and specificity of waste data collection and information, including through the National Waste Report and National Waste Account. The movement of waste through metropolitan and regional areas and states and territories and reporting on imports and exports have been identified as a data gap by all Australian governments.

  • Invest in new technologies and infrastructure

Market research to assess national infrastructure capacity has identified significant processing gaps for some materials and new capacity coming online for others. There is a substantial capacity gap in Western Australia, particularly for paper processing.

For high value plastics such as HDPE and PET, there has been investment in new facilities in the past two years and some of these facilities appear to have spare capacity.7 The need to fill existing processing gaps should guide investment decisions in all jurisdictions.

A significant challenge raised in industry consultation is the ability for businesses to secure investment for facilities and equipment upgrades, and to develop and test new technologies for creating value-added products from waste.

  • Coordinate regional recycling capacity

Cross-jurisdictional actions are needed to address the particular waste and recycling challenges associated with remote and regional areas, such as Northern Australia. The transport costs involved in moving waste long distances from its source to processing facilities can significantly increase the total cost of recycling. Dispersed populations can also reduce the cost-effectiveness of collection services.

  • Drive international cooperation

Marine plastic pollution is an issue which goes beyond national borders. Coordination and alignment across the Indo-Pacific region is needed to prevent products like single-use plastic bags from entering the marine environment, and to manage marine plastic debris.

  • Streamline approval processes and requirements

For investment in waste and recycling infrastructure to occur in response to material supply generated from the export ban, state, territory and local government approval processes need to be timely, transparent and fit-for-purpose. Industry has raised the length of time for approval processes as a barrier to investing in major infrastructure projects. Planning approval, community consultation, financing and building takes time. It can take several years to meet requirements and construct a new recycling facility. This can represent a significant cost for business, particularly small businesses.

  • Consider waste levy settings

Waste levies are currently collected in five states (NSW, Victoria, Qld, SA and WA) and aim to reduce the amount of waste being landfilled and promote recycling and resource recovery. States and territories invest a share of this funding in programs and initiatives to support enhanced waste and resource recovery outcomes. Industry, however, has called for a greater proportion of waste levy revenue to be committed to these programs and initiatives.

ANZPAC Plastics Pact expands

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) will lead the development of the ANZPAC Plastic Pact, the latest to join the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s global plastics pact network.

The Pact will launch to the public in late 2020 and will work with businesses, governments and NGOs from across the plastics value chain in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Island nations. It’s aim is to develop a common vision of the circular economy for plastics.

ANZPAC will provide the significant intervention required to meet Australia’s national plastic packaging target that 70% of all plastic packaging will be recycled or composted by 2025.

Aligned with the other initiatives of the Plastics Pact network, the ANZPAC Plastics Pact will work towards a set of ambitious, time-bound targets in these areas:

  • elimination of unnecessary and problematic single-use plastic packaging through redesign and innovation
  • ensuring all plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable, or compostable
  • increasing the reuse, collection, and recycling of plastic packaging
  • increasing recycled content in plastic packaging

The exact targets will be released towards the end of 2020, and progress will be reported annually.

The initiative was announced at the National Plastics Summit, where APCO was joined by representatives from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, the UK’s Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP), and the Australian Food and Grocery Council and industry and government was officially invited to participate in the program.

Assistant Minister for waste reduction and environmental management, Trevor Evans, said that the government welcomed industry led approaches which were fundamental to bringing about better recycling outcomes.

“We look forward to actions that will significantly increase recycled plastic content beyond current levels.”

According to APCO CEO, Brooke Donnelly, plastic is a global supply chain problem and in order to manage it effectively, Australia needs an international approach.

“The Ellen Macarthur Foundation’s Plastic Pact network is a proven, effective model being rolled out across the world, and I’m very pleased that APCO Members and key stakeholders will be leading the delivery of this program for our region,” she said

Circular Plastics Research Initiative

In 2020, APCO will be developing the program in close consultation with local industry representatives in all regions. Initiatives will include a series of plastics-focused projects, and the creation of the Circular Plastics Research Initiative, a new innovation hub that will bring together researchers, investors and industry to share knowledge and align efforts.

Companies which have already shown strong engagement with the program include Woolworths, Australia Post, Unilever, Mars, Nestlé Oceania, Pact, CHEP, Amcor, Kmart Australia, Officeworks, Detmold Group, Veolia, SUEZ, Fonterra and Mondelēz International. The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) and Planet Ark Environmental Foundation are also strongly supporting the program’s development.

According to AFGC Acting CEO Dr Geoffrey Annison, “The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) is collaborating to develop whole-of supply chain solutions so our sector can meet the National Packaging Targets to benefit the community and the environment.

“We are proud to be supporting the development of the new ANZPAC program, alongside the ongoing work of APCO and the vital role the organisation is playing in developing a circular economy for packaging and increasing recycling rates across our region.”

Officeworks, head of sustainable development, Ryan Swenson added, “Addressing the challenges relating to plastic packaging requires collaboration across all sectors, and the approach outlined by APCO provides the mechanism to facilitate the systems level change that is needed.”

Ellen MacArthur Foundation, new plastics economy lead, Sander Defruyt said, “We look forward to working together with the governments and industry of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands to drive real change towards a circular economy for plastic. By eliminating problematic and unnecessary plastic items, innovating to ensure that the plastics they do need are reusable, recyclable, or compostable, and circulating the plastic items they use to keep them in the economy and out of the environment, we can create a world without plastic waste or pollution.”

WRAP head of international resource management UK, David Rogers said, “WRAP is delighted to see APCO announce plans for an ANZPAC. The UK Plastics Pact has been very successful in transforming the plastics landscape in the UK. WRAP, who developed the UK Plastics Pact in collaboration with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, have been involved in supporting a number of Plastics Pacts around the world as part of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s global Plastics Pact network. This has the power to completely transform how we produce, use and dispose of plastics.”

Engineers aim to turn Australia’s rubbish into a resource

Leading engineers have predicted that, with the help of sustainable engineering, Australia’s rubbish will be transformed into a key resource and generate new industries. This was highlighted on March 3, when the Australian Academy of Technology and Engineering (ATSE) celebrated UNESCO’s World Engineering Day by bringing together expertise from industry, universities, and the public sector to build the keys to turning waste streams into income streams.

“Australia generates around 67 million tonnes of waste per year – but with the rapid evolution of technology and sustainable engineering practices we can, and should be able to, turn this into a major resource,” ATSE CEO Kylie Walker said.

“At this inaugural World Engineering Day for Sustainable Development, the Academy of Technology and Engineering has led a critical and timely major national initiative to pave the way for the digital revolution to supercharge Australia’s new circular economy.

“With technology and systems approaches that already exist, we can create nine or 10 jobs for every 10,000 tonnes of repurposed rubbish. Imagine how we could build on this growth as we start to create products designed for multiple iterations, create smart waste management systems, and invent advanced recovery technology, she added.”

Waste is one of three major focus areas for ATSE’s major investigation and preparation for Australia’s technology future, alongside health and transport. The investigation, supported by the Australian Research Council, will provide a blueprint for government, business and academic investment in technology and research to support waste management planning to 2030.

“We’re looking at how Australia can prepare the infrastructure and skills, as well as the social, policy and regulatory frameworks needed to move as close to a zero-waste economy as it’s possible to be,” Walker said.

“As we celebrate World Engineering Day, we’re proud that this work supports a range of Sustainable Development Goals including responsible consumption, sustainable communities, innovation and infrastructure, and decent options for employment and economic growth.

“We’re also proud to be the Academy for engineers – whose work supports the safe growth and development of the essential infrastructure that underpins modern life, whether it’s energy and digital networks, waste management, water supply, or transport and freight infrastructure.”

 

 

Harmonisation and collaboration: key themes of first Plastics Summit

Councils, industry and non-governmental delegates attending the Plastics Summit in Canberra yesterday, heard a strong call for the creation of national collection specifications and standards to simplify the challenge of plastic waste. This issue was amongst several which emerged from a series of roundtable discussions led by specific industry experts.

The session Addressing plastics at its source discussed ways to reduce the amount of plastic produced. The suggestions from delegates included:

  • acknowledging the potential of design
  • improved consumer education to reduce confusion
  • addressing the high demand for recyclate and the low supply

Plastics and our daily life considered how we can better help households and communities manage their plastic needs and waste. The suggestions included:

  • scale really matters on several levels such as recycling plants and communications
  • develop demand for recycled products and other outcomes will flow
  • standardisation and national specifications will simplify processes

The Plastics Revolution discussed opportunities to harness the latest technologies for recycling plastic types, plastic material standards, products design solutions and processing solutions. The suggestions included:

  • our systems problem needs a system solution and collaboration across the supply chain
  • incentivisation is required to attract long term contracts if we don’t penalise operators (as they do in the UK)
  • there needs to be harmonisation across the collection process and local governments need to develop a mature mindset

Plastics in the Economy discussed how we can better connect the different stages of the plastic value-chain. The suggestions included:

  • we need a vision to mainstream resource recovery
  • serious investigation into the important role of legislation to lift recycling rate
  • new modes of collaboration and de risking required

Oceans and Waterways discussed ways to reduce plastic marine debris and microplastics/beads entering our oceans and what needs to be done to reduce this impact on the environment. The suggestions included:

  • education is key and we need another contemporary campaign similar to Keep Australia Beautiful
  • ban single use plastics
  • make clothes that ensure that we aren’t shedding microfibres

Assistant Minister for Agriculture, Water and Environment Trevor Evans, who also received suggestions from school children attending the event, wrapped up the presentation at the end of the day.

“Before markets are formed and we begin to take action, we have to carefully look at the impacts on both supply chains and consumers,” he said.

This was followed by Minister Ley who acknowledged the industry for the ongoing commitment to reducing the environmental impacts of waste plastics and making fundamental changes to their business operations to help transition Australia to a circular economy by turning waste into a resource.

Pledges lift investment

A raft of industry pledges were also made throughout the Summit and kicked off by $500 million commitment from the Pact Group into sustainable packaging, reuse and recycling initiatives that will create new jobs. Pact non-executive chairman Raphael Geminder said the commitment by Pact would involve significant investment in existing and new facilities over the next five years, with the company working collaboratively with government and like-minded partners.

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) said it will lead the development of the ANZPAC Plastic Pact, by joining the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s global Plastics Pact network.The ANZPAC Plastics Pact, which will launch to the public in late 2020, will work with businesses, governments and NGOs from across the plastics value chain in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Island nations to develop a common vision of the circular economy for plastics.

Australia Post committed to making 100 per cent of its plastic satchel range from recycled content by 2021. Australia Post executive general manager community and consumer, Nicole Sheffield, said the commitment underlined Australia Post’s drive towards a sustainable future.

Nestle and Australian recycler iQ Renew will trial a project to collect soft plastics from over 100,000 homes through kerbside recycling and diverted from landfill. iQ Renew CEO Danial Gallagher said there is an opportunity in turning soft plastic from a waste to a resource.

McDonalds will remove 585 tonnes of plastic cutlery from their Australian stores by the end of the year on top of its previous commitment to removing 500 million plastic straws.

Qantas has also pledged to remove 100 million single-use plastic items, such as cups, cutlery and meal boxes by end 2020 replacing them with compostable items.

Unilever will halve the amount of virgin plastic it uses by buying more recycled plastic and reducing the amount of plastic it uses in its packaging by more than 100,000 tonnes.

Government will strengthen procurement guidelines to energise plastics sector

Prime Minister, Scott Morrison opened the inaugural Australian Plastics Summit at Parliament House yesterday, March 2 telling around 200 stakeholders within the industry that his government would strengthen Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines to energise the sector as it tackles the National Waste Action Plan.

Referencing the success of Australia’s Indigenous businesses, Morrison said that the government would change Commonwealth guidelines to ensure every procurement made by a government agency would examine recycled content as well as environmental sustainability to determine value for money.

“By focusing on these practical steps, we will be able to see progress as we did with our procurement policy to energise our Indigenous businesses,” he said.

However, Morrison did advise that the delegates from various sectors of the industry who were sitting in the room, were definitely part of the solution.

“There’s no doubt that the misuse of plastics is a scarring on our lands and oceans but, just as scientists and engineers solved the problem of human waste going into ocean outflows, you are also in a position to deliver a similar outcome,” he said.

He added that the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in two weeks was significant as the federal government, along with state and territory leaders would then finalise a ban on the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres.

An announcement would also be made in May’s budget aimed at improving Australia’s recycling and collection systems. He also noted that the Report released last week by Infrastructure Australia had made resource recovery a High Priority Project.

“We will work with the states to build partnerships to grow the recycling market. This is particularly good news for regional Australia as it will deliver more jobs.

I am excited about the opportunities to build markets and increase demand for recycled products.”

Minister for Agriculture, Water and the Environment Sussan Ley, who hosted the event, said that the one-day summit was designed to ‘walk the talk’ and that a major focus would be getting people and companies interested in making waste valuable.

“Our key purpose is to connect key players, to find new ways of doing business and to spur action,” she said.

 

 

Loop to arrive in Australia mid-2021

The Loop service developed by the recycling company TerraCycle will launch online in Woolworths in Sydney in June, 2021. The concept, currently operating in the US and France was presented to recycling and reuse stakeholders in Sydney last week by TerraCycle CEO, Tom Szaky.

Sarky told Inside Waste that he had been talking with a range of Australian local and city councils as well state and federal government prior to the 2021 launch. He said that the response has been positive and revealed that he has already received $250,000 funding over two years from Tokyo City to launch a similar scheme.

As the Loop service in Australia will originally be launched online,  customers will pay a fee for the use of the returnable containers. They then place online shopping orders, as with any other ecommerce grocery service. The difference comes when their shopping is delivered. It arrives in a large, insulated box with individual products supplied in reusable containers. The box is used to store the empty containers, which are collected by Loop to be washed and used again; there are no wrappers or boxes and no single-use plastics.

Szaky explained that any recoverable content within used packaging will be reused or recycled using Loop. It expects the system will also enable people to use and buy products in brand-specific, customised packaging that can then be reused and refilled after it is collected and cleaned.

Turning a negative to a positive

According to Szaky, the primary aim of Loop is to turn the concept of waste from a negative to a positive one in the minds of consumers. This also being achieved with an extension of the initial Loop model to those products that can packaged in aesthetic and durable containers and then refilled repeatedly after Loop collects the empties and ships them new when done.

As part of the new service, empty packaging will be collected from households for recycling or refilling purpose. According to Szaky, the reliance on single-use plastics in homes will then be reduced with its circular economy system.

Loop will also extend its operations with a UK launch in March this year. Using the term “wisdom from the past” Szaky explained that the model echoes the heyday of the milkman – the daily doorstep delivery of milk and other perishables.

According to Sarky, any recoverable content in used packaging will be reused or recycled using Loop. He said he expected the system to allow people to use and buy products in brand-specific, customised packaging that can then be reused and refilled after it is collected and cleaned.

“Loop will significantly improve the convenience of shopping and also enhance the product experience. These will be the added benefits besides the elimination of the idea of packaging waste.

“Consumers can now consume products responsibly in fully recyclable, reusable or specially-designed durable packaging made from engineered plastics, glass, alloys, and other materials through Loop.

“After a consumer returns the packaging, the content is recycled or reused using ground-breaking technology or even refilled,” he said.

Inside Waste had previously reported that TerraCycle had struck partnerships with Colgate, Mars and Walkers in 2018. Innovation investments from these founding partners are said to have made the new Loop initiative possible. The partners offered a zero-waste option, which was convenient, as well as affordable for consumers, for some of the most recognisable products in the world as part of their drive.

Now brands including PepsiCo, P&G, Nestle and Unilever are onboard  and other Loop partners include Carrefour, SUEZ and Tesco which will pilot the system later this year in the UK.

 

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.

 

Inaugural plastics summit will address National Waste Policy

Australia’s first plastics summit opens on Monday March 2, with a specific focus on the progress of the 2018 National Waste Policy Action Plan which has a target of phasing out problematic and unnecessary plastics by 2025. Department of Agriculture, Water and The Environment Minister, Sussan Ley is hosting the Summit at Parliament House in Canberra.

The Summit is bringing together a cross-sector of 200 senior executives from government, industry as well a community sectors. The aim of the Summit is to showcase and identify new solutions to the plastic waste challenge and mobilise further action from governments, industry and non-government organisations.

Some of the main issues that the Summit will raise through its opening panel and roundtables includes:

  • changes from reliance on virgin plastic and the impact on our lands and oceans
  • reduction of single-use plastic and problematic plastic, sustainable product design, product stewardship solutions, waste avoidance and increasing recycled content in plastic products
  • support for households to better manage their plastic needs and waste
  • opportunities to harness technologies for recycling plastic types, plastic material standards, products design solutions and processing solutions
  • improve connectivity of the different stages of the plastic value-chain including collection, sorting and processing and national standards.
  • reduction of plastic marine debris and microplastics beads entering the ocean