Good News: NSW to fast track planning approvals

In a bid to combat the economic downturn brought about by COVID-19,  NSW Minister for Planning and Public spaces, Rob Stokes, has revealed the government’s Planning System Acceleration Program.The program aims to fast-track planning processes in order to stimulate the construction industry and minimise jobs loss. These will drive faster approvals for State Significant Developments …

Leadership changes at VWMA and WRIQ

A senior leadership change has been made at the Victorian Waste Management Association (VWMA) with the appointment of Alex Serpo as the new executive officer commencing in May. He will be leaving the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) where he held the position of secretariat since 2017. He replaces Mark Smith, who is …

NSW government releases COVID-19 guidance for waste and recycling industry

The NSW government has advised the waste and recycling industry and councils that it will continue to work closely with them to ensure critical waste services continue. It has also issued a set of guidelines for staying healthy and safe during COVID-19. In a joint statement, the government and the EPA said that although the …

$5m round for Regional Growth Fund now open

The opening of South Australia’s third funding round of the Regional Growth Fund has been brought forward in a move designed to provide economic stimulus to the state’s regions impacted by bushfires, drought and ongoing impacts of coronavirus.

Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone said that the current round for projects will strengthen regional economies and provide tangible social benefits to local communities. The last round of funding unlocked $14.6 million investment across 10 projects, which are expected to create 160 jobs.

Whetstone added that by bringing forward applications for the Regional Growth Fund the state government’s $350 million stimulus package aimed at safeguarding the economy and protecting jobs will be supported.

“The Marshall Government recognises that supporting our regions is crucial to the future prosperity of our state,” Whetstone said.

“The Regional Growth Fund helps unlock new economic activity in our regions and by bringing applications forward we will help fast-track the recovery of our regional economies, which have been hurting as a result of the recent bushfires, drought and the ongoing impacts of coronavirus.”

10 year commitment

The Regional Growth Fund is a 10-year commitment offering $15 million in grants annually to support projects that will deliver tangible benefits to regional South Australia and most importantly creates jobs.

“Successful projects will be those that not only strengthen the economies of our regions, but also provide real community-wide benefits to the area. The first two rounds of funding are supporting projects that are creating stronger and more resilient regions.

“Thanks to the 2019-20 round of funding, our regional areas will enjoy a wider variety of food and drink experiences, better water and cycling infrastructure, and diverse tourism opportunities, so I’m again looking forward to seeing the range of projects that will make a positive difference in our regional towns and communities.

“I encourage eligible applicants who have a project they feel can strengthen our regional communities to apply.”

Grants up to $2 million

Applicants in the third round can seek grants from $50,000 up to $2 million, with projects to be located within South Australia that offer outcomes and benefits for regional South Australia.

Projects should foster collaboration and demonstrate a commitment to local employment, and purchase local supplies wherever possible. Applications to the Regional Growth Fund will be accepted from local government bodies, incorporated associations and business clusters.

Applications for Round Three of the Regional Growth Fund close at 12pm on Monday May 11, 2020. More information is available at www.pir.sa.gov.au/regionalgrowthfund

Government creates a department for regional NSW

A new Department of Regional NSW has been established to better coordinate support for communities, businesses and farmers in the bush that have endured drought, bushfire and flood and now face the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro, said that the department will bring together Primary Industries, Local Land Services, Resources and Geoscience and regional coordination across government to form a central agency dedicated to regional issues.

It will be led by incoming Secretary Gary Barnes, currently the Coordinator General, Regional NSW, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

Response to regional needs

Barilaro said that the government was urgently responding to the desperate needs of people in the regions and this new agency would work to ensure community wellbeing, resilient economies and strong key regional industries.

“We know that the issues faced by the people of Cootamundra are very different to those faced in Coogee and so it is imperative we have a government designed to properly support every corner of this State,” he explained.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has made a big impact on what has already been a devastating start to 2020, as farmers continue to suffer through the worst drought in recorded history and towns torn apart by bushfires continue to feel the effects months on.

“The new Department of Regional NSW will be a voice in government for people in the bush and will have a laser-like focus on the challenges and opportunities unique to regional communities, helping them to get through hardships many of us have not seen in our time.

“This department will allow a more streamlined response to regional issues as experts in areas such as primary industries, land management, resources, regional development, drought response and bushfire recovery work closer together than ever before.”

According to Barilaro, the department will drive the delivery of recent bushfire and COVID-19 stimulus and industry recovery packages along with the NSW Government’s drought initiatives, $1.7 billion Regional Growth Fund and $4.2 billion Snowy Hydro Legacy Fund.

“I said that regional communities would get their fair share and to date, we have fulfilled that commitment, from securing billions in funding to the urgent measures we have rolled out for farmers, business owners and families,” Barilaro added.

The Department of Regional NSW will be led by incoming Secretary Gary Barnes, currently the Coordinator General, Regional NSW, Department of Planning, Industry and Environment.

WRIAQ and state government unite to secure industry safety

A decree to make WARR confirmed as an essential service has been implemented following a direct request to the state government from the Waste Recycling Industry Association Queensland (WRIAQ).

In its submission, WRIAQ stated that it was critical that the sector maintain a secure supply chain and mitigated risk from any potential additional community health and environmental issues associated with uncollected wastes and recyclables.

In late March, Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business Leeanne Enoch, confirmed that cabinet had agreed to that request.

Co-operative engagement

According to WRIAQ CEO Rick Ralph, Queensland remains one of only two states, along with South Australia, where a state government has made this decree.

“Additionally, we have also convened a weekly high level meeting with DES including having a Queensland Health representative on board to facilitate and share industry issues on an ongoing basis. It is now agreed that a separate recyclers meeting will also go ahead,” Ralph said.

 “We trust that this may provide a positive view of the genuine attempt by our regulator to work in partnership with us,” he added.

Packaging report details collaborative vision

Our Packaging Future, the new strategic framework outlining how Australia will deliver the 2025 National Packaging Targets was unveiled yesterday during an industry webinar.

The report was launched by assistant minister for Waste Reduction and Environment Management, Trevor Evans, and the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) and featured discussion from Evans, Dr Helen Lewis and APCO CEO Brooke Donnelly.

Our Packaging Future combines data and insights from more than 200 authors and contributors, to identify the current critical challenges contributing to this gap. It then maps the strategies required to move away from our current take, make and waste approach to managing packaging.

The strategies address issues of packaging design, improved collection and recycling systems and expanded markets for used packaging, and provides a systemic, whole of environment approach to building Australia’s sustainable packaging future.

Key recommendations and approaches addressed in the plan include:

  • A change to the 2025 National Packaging Target for recycled content levels in packaging. The Target for the average recycled content in all packaging will increase from 30 percent to 50 percent
  • The launch of a National Consumer Education Campaign for sustainable packaging in 2020
  • APCO to convene a CDS National Working Group as a collaborative forum aiming to facilitate consistency and alignment of future closed-loop schemes
  • APCO to explore and facilitate waste collection partnerships in regional and remote areas including potential collaboration with other product stewardship schemes where kerbside collection is not feasible
  • Voluntary code of practice for shopping bags with key stakeholders
  • New reuse models for both consumer and B2B packaging
  • For compostable packaging, develop a national strategy with industry and government partners.
  • Explore extending the Australasian Recycling Label to include B2B packaging and recycled content.
  • Develop a traceability and verification program for recycled content in packaging and products

According to Evans, “Governments around Australia are relying on APCO and its members to bring about a more sustainable approach to packaging. This report shows that about half of all packaging in Australia is not currently being recovered, and that is the gap we need to bridge to achieve the National Packaging Targets by 2025”.

Brooke Donnelly, CEO, APCO added, “Our planet has finite resources to meet our ever-increasing consumption. Business as usual is simply not going to sustain our communities into the future. We will not accept a future defined by waste stockpiles, inefficient waste recovery economies, self-interest and fragmented regulation and policy approaches.

Clear vision

She said that the vision for this report is clear. It will build a packaging value chain that collaborates to keep packaging materials out of landfill and maximise the circular value of the materials, energy and labour within the local economy.

“Thank you to everyone who took part in the process, it has taken over two years, however we now have a clear vision for a whole of system approach to delivering the 2025 Targets,” she said.

Leaders from across the packaging value chain, including major brands, retailers and business associations, the waste and recycling industry, and the environmental community have responded positively to the report.

“By mapping the challenges faced by all impacted waste streams, the collective impact framework of the report focuses industry and government on the strategies that will drive the critical growth and sustainable end markets that are necessary to drive the system forward and achieve the waste reduction and recycling outcomes the Australian public expects,” SUEZ Australia & New Zealand chief customer officer, Justin Frank said.

Significant milestone

“As the first integrated and holistic perspective of Australia’s packaging ecosystem, ‘Our Packaging Future’ is a significant milestone for packaging sustainability here in Australia. At Kmart Group, we are committed to reducing the environmental impacts of Kmart, Target and Catch’s own brand products and packaging, delivered through our Better Together sustainable development program,” Kmart Group head of Energy and Environment Chris Foley added.

“The Our Packaging Future project is firmly part of diverse network of global organisations, this network, providing an evidence-based foundation for businesses to map, measure and forecast the reduction and, ultimately the elimination, of packaging leakage across their value chains.

The recommendations and strategies outlined in the report will provide Australian businesses with a strong foundation to deliver effective action on eliminating pollution and building a circular approach across our economy,” Business Council for Sustainable Development Australia, CEO Andrew Petersen said.

“The report highlights the very real need for national consumer education particularly the use of standardised on-pack recycling information via the Australasian Recycling Label, itself a highly productive collaboration between APCO, Planet Ark and PREP Design,” Planet Ark Environmental Foundation CEO, Paul Klymenko concluded.

 

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