Yesterday’s report that a breakthrough plastic recycling technology developed by Australian researchers will shift overseas, costing Australian jobs, is a further indication that the Morrison government is too late and too slow in responding to Australia’s waste crisis.
Developed by Dr Len Humphreys and a counterpart from Sydney University, Professor Thomas Maschmeyer, the technology converts plastic back into source materials, including oil. This is a remarkable and promising breakthrough that illustrates the great potential in Australian scientific research and innovation. It should be the basis of better recycling outcomes, a cleaner environment, and new manufacturing job opportunities.
Unfortunately the inventors of this innovative process have been forced to take the commercialisation stage to the United Kingdom because there is insufficient support for it to develop in Australia.
Speaking about the decision to commercialise their research in the UK, Dr Humphreys told ABC’s 7.30 that the Federal Government doesn’t offer the necessary market incentives and clear policy framework to support a plastic recycling facility of this kind in Australia.
Such a decision reflects the huge gap between the Prime Minister’s claim at the United Nations that Australia will be a leader in plastic recycling, and the reality under the weak superficial policies of his blank-sheet third-term Coalition government. Plastic waste is having a serious impact on our environment, especially in our oceans and fisheries. It occurs through a profound market failure and will not be fixed by wishful thinking or bragging on the international stage.
Two-thirds of the government’s so-called recycling investment plan is made up of re-packaged loan funds. The $100 million Australian Recycling Investment Fund consists of nothing more than a fresh label on existing Clean Energy Finance monies. This is not a form of new investment or ‘matched funding’, as previously suggested by the Government, and there is no direct funding support or procurement policies in place to help establish the necessary Australian recycling and reprocessing industry.
The Prime Minister was forced to cancel the December meeting of COAG after his government failed to have an adequate recycling plan ready for discussion.
Labor is calling on Scott Morrison to back new Australian jobs, by actually investing in innovation, rather than just talking about it at the UN.
Until the Morrison government acknowledges that our waste crisis is a serious problem that needs a serious and properly regulated and resourced solution