World-first ban on waste plastic exports

The Hon Sussan Ley MP, Minister for the Environment

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

The Morrison Government’s agenda to protect our environment and create jobs reaches another key milestone today with the introduction of a ban on the export of mixed plastic waste exports.

Industry leaders have confirmed they are ready for the next step of a staged series of export bans that will see a transformation of Australia’s recycling industry and contribute to 10,000 new jobs over the next ten years.

“Mixed plastics are the roughly sorted bundles of bottles and containers packed into shipping containers that we have often seen turned away from foreign ports in recent years due to contamination issues,” Minister Ley said.

“This is about taking responsibility for our waste, creating economic opportunity and helping our environment.

“We have been consulting widely with industry and we are investing with state and territory governments and with individual businesses to grow domestic capacity.

“This stage of the ban will end the export of 75,000 tonnes of baled mixed plastic being exported each year.

“Recent surveys identify that there is already annual spare capacity of just over 160,000 tonnes at 52 of Australia’s operational plastics processing facilities to meet this demand and that capacity is growing.

“At the same time 26 plastics projects are already being co-funded by the Morrison Government’s $600 million Recycling Modernisation Fund, bringing an additional processing capacity of 163,721 tonnes a year on-line, with more announcements to come.

“The major industry parties have signed up to the timetable along with the State and Territory governments, and everyone has known that this has been coming for some time.

“There is some synergy with the ban coming into force at the start of Plastics Free July, and as major retailers like Coles and Woolworths and restaurant chains like McDonald’s announce the removal of more single use plastics from their shelves and stores.

“While there may be a few others who are slow to adjust, the broader industry is firmly behind where we are going.”

Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans, said that as the staged export ban comes into place the Morrison Government is already helping to drive new markets for recycled material by investing in new technologies, industry-led product stewardship schemes and sustainable procurement strategies.

“Increasingly, major infrastructure and building projects will offer more and more opportunities to consume plastics and other recycled products in roads, highway sound barriers, railway sleepers, bollards, boardwalks and outdoor furniture,” Assistant Minister Evans said.

“The Morrison Government is also looking to use its purchasing power to increase demand for recycled products. Already the Defence Department is using recycled plastic in various asphalt projects, and recycled construction waste from the WestConnex motorway is being used in Western Sydney International Airport’s runways, taxiways and road base.”

“This export ban is about a complete change of mindset when it comes to what we used to call waste and our attitudes to buying something that has been ‘recycled’.

Major industry representatives today supported the next stage of the ban:

Cleanaway:

“Cleanaway has worked hard with the Federal Government to make sure we are ready for the 1 July export ban.

“The Morrison Government has invested significantly in the waste sector through the Recycling Modernisation Fund to make sure we have the right reprocessing infrastructure to support a domestic circular economy.

Gayle Sloan, CE0 Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia:

“Industry supports these bans and appreciates the once in a lifetime funding opportunity that government at levels have invested in our industry which would not have happened in the absence of the ban and strong federal government leadership. The reality is that these are complicated projects that have a development time frames of 1- 2 years, industry has already moved considerably and is processing substantially more on shore with funded plans for additional infrastructure in coming months.”

Sanjay Dayal, CEO Pact Group:

“We applaud the Government for upholding the ban on exporting plastic waste. Pact through industry partnerships is investing over $200M in the construction of state-of-the-art plastics recycling facilities around Australia. Waste export bans coupled with APCO targets requiring brand owners to use recycled plastic back in packaging gives industry confidence to invest in local processing infrastructure. We are ready for the regulatory changes which are due to come into effect”

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