Historic step: states agree to ban on waste exports

The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment

The Hon Trevor Evans, Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management

Today’s Council of Australian Governments (COAG) decision to progressively ban the export of plastic, paper, tyres and glass waste from July 2020 represents an historic change for the environment and the recycling industry.

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the ban signals a once in a generation transformation of the recycling industry that could generate $1.5 billion in economic activity over the next 20 years and more than 2000 jobs.

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

“This ban is 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.

“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.”

Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Trevor Evans said confirmation of the ban today is the result of strong cooperation between states, territories and industry.

“We now have the opportunity to create jobs, grow the economy, transform the waste industry and significantly reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfill,” Mr Evans said.

“We know that for every 10,000 tonnes of waste sent to landfill there are approximately 2.8 direct jobs created. If we recycle the same waste, 9.2 direct jobs are created.”

Globally, around eight million tonnes of plastics end up in the ocean and Australia exports more than one million tonnes of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres every year. The waste sector currently employs 15,000 people and generates $15 billion a year.

Background

The agreed ban on the export of plastic, paper, tyres and glass waste is as follows:

  • All waste glass by July 2020
  • Mixed waste plastics by July 2021
  • All whole tyres including baled tyres by December 2021
  • Remaining waste products, including mixed paper and cardboard, by no later than 30 June 2022.

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