Federal Parliamentary Committee identifies barriers to innovation in waste
In October last year, the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, the Hon Karen Andrews MP asked the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Industry, Innovation, Science and Resources to look at innovative solutions in Australia’s waste management and recycling industries.
NWRIC CEO Rose Read said it was an important inquiry, with the terms of reference covering industrial, commercial and domestic waste, waste in waterways and oceans, and landfill reduction.
“The Committee’s final report acknowledges not only the potential of the waste and resource recovery sector, but that opportunities to upscale and commercialise resource recovery facilities are being hampered by the lack of a national policy and regulatory framework in which business can operate.
“Evidence presented to the Committee focused on the impediments to innovation, particularly in relation to policy certainty and regulations and noted that a lack of technology and solutions was not the issue.
“In fact, the final report states ‘what is needed is a national framework within which regulation, incentive-based actions, taxes and levies, and long-term policy certainty are key features.’
“We know that the technology exists, and business is ready to invest in innovative solutions that will recover more resources and develop a truly circular economy. Timely implementation of the National Waste Policy Action Plan and alignment of state and national waste policy targets and investment is critical,” Ms Read said.
The Committee’s final report lists 24 recommendations, including:
- implementing a pathway to a predominantly national circular economy,
- updating the National Waste Policy Action Plan to include transport and infrastructure requirements so that national waste can be managed across regions and borders,
- annual reporting by the Minister on progress against NWPAP targets and actions,
- inclusion of additional waste streams under the Product Stewardship Act 2011, and
- the development of a specific Waste to Energy policy and a national methane-to-power program for landfill sites in cities and larger regional centres.
Read the report From Rubbish to Resources: Building a Circular Economy here
States slow to make Recycling Modernisation Fund available to industry
Australia’s eastern states and South Australia, where 80% of Australia’s waste is generated, have yet to match and distribute to industry the Commonwealth’s $190 million Recycling Modernisation Fund (RMF) announced 6 months ago in July, to upgrade and expand glass, plastic and tyre recycling infrastructure.
NWRIC CEO Rose Read said now that the Recycling and Waste Reduction Bills have been made law (as of 16 December 2020) and the timetable for waste export bans is confirmed, development of recycling infrastructure should be a priority for all states and territories.
“2021 is a critical year with waste export bans for glass, mixed plastics and tyres all coming into effect, followed by baled plastics in 2022 and mixed paper in 2024. It is crucial governments work quickly with industry to fast-track construction of new processing capacity, clean up what is coming through household and business recycling bins and increase uptake of recycled materials into products, packaging and public infrastructure.
“If governments continue to dawdle in rolling out these funds and clearing the way for development approvals, we are going to see growing stockpiles of mixed plastics and paper, illegal dumping or landfilling of potentially valuable recyclable resources.
“Together we can rapidly scale up Australia’s paper, plastic, glass and tyre recycling capacity to become world class, but there seems to be slow progress from the majority of the states and Commonwealth on getting these funds out,” Ms Read said.
When the full waste export ban comes into effect, it is estimated that Australia must recycle an additional 650,000 tonnes of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres each year.
Under the Recycling Modernisation Fund there is a commitment to co-invest in critical recycling infrastructure with state and territory governments and industry on a 1:1:1 basis, and so far, only the ACT and WA have stepped up.
“The RMF has been set up and it is imperative that states that have not yet come to the party get moving and we know what funding is available,” Ms Read said.
New national recycling and waste laws and waste glass export ban rule in place
This week the Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020 became law. The new legislation will implement the Australian Governments’ (i.e. federal, states and territories) joint 2020 commitment to ban the export of waste glass, plastics, tyres and paper.
The export of waste glass is now regulated under these new laws. From 1 January 2021 exporters will no longer be able to send unprocessed waste glass overseas. The Recycling and Waste Reduction (Export – Waste Glass) Rules 2020 and explanatory statement was also gazetted this week and describes the circumstances in which exporters can obtain permits to ship this type of glass overseas for specific uses.
Exporters of processed waste glass will need to hold a waste glass export licence. Applications for an export licence can be made online using the Waste Export and Licensing Declaration portal.
Rules for waste plastics, tyres and paper will be phased in over time. Rules for plastics will come into effect on 1 July 2021 (stage 1) and 1 July 2022 (stage 2); tyres on 1 December 2021; and paper on 1 July 2024. Exporters of these materials will need a licence to export by the required date.
Information on transitioning to the regulation of exports of waste plastic, tyres and paper can be found at https://www.environment.gov.au/protection/waste/exports/transition.
Vic EPA proposed 2021 regulations released to help industry prepare
Victoria’s Environment Protection Authority has released the proposed final versions of the new subordinate legislation – the Regulations and the ERS.
The publishing of the proposed final Regulations and ERS will allow you to prepare with confidence for the commencement of the new laws from 1 July 2021.
The proposed final Regulations and ERS are available on EPA’s website.
A report responding to public comment during the consultation process has also been made available on EPA’s website.
There are proposed final versions of 5 EPA publications that will be incorporated in the Regulations when they are made and support their operation. These are:
- Noise limit and assessment protocol (publication 1826)
- ESMP data manual 1992: Engine speed at maximum power and noise test engine speeds for vehicles 1970 to 2005 (publication 317)
- Protocol for calculating monetary benefits (publication 1727)
- Waste classification assessment protocol (publication 1827)
- Waste disposal categories – characteristics and thresholds (publication 1828)
2020 a year in review and looking to 2021
The December edition of Waste Management Review includes an article by NWRIC CEO Rose Read on 2020 the year that was and what we can expect in 2021. Check it out by visiting https://wastemanagementreview.com.au/looking-ahead-to-2021/
NWRIC wishes everyone a safe and happy festive season and a prosperous 2021.