A report commissioned by the Department of the Environment and Energy has highlighted the seriousness of Australia’s waste crisis, and the inadequacy of the government’s response.
Global recycling market analysis prepared by consulting firm Sustainable Resource Use has warned the Federal Government that Australia may need to increase local recycling processing capability by 400%. This comes at a time when the scale of plastic recycling in Australia is lower now than it was in 2005, and around the country plastic is being stockpiled, which presents a fire risk.
Yet despite the Prime Minister claiming at the UN that Australia would be a world leader in plastic recycling, the government’s record to date is characterised by inaction:
- No direct funding for recycling infrastructure
- No leadership when it comes to a national ban on single-use plastics or a container deposit scheme
- No action on federal procurement of recycled products to support local demand
- No meaningful reform in relation to Product Stewardship regulation
The new analysis shows that market demand for recycled materials such as paper and cardboard, plastics and glass remains volatile, which only highlights the need for serious action to dramatically increase Australia’s reprocessing capacity and the corresponding demand for such products.
The report punches more holes in the government’s carefully packaged but fundamentally hollow response to the waste crisis. The COAG meeting prompted by the crisis was cancelled; the outcomes of its review into the Product Stewardship regulations is now years overdue; and their so-called ‘recycling investment fund’ started seven month’s late and only featured re-packaged funds. Meanwhile the beginning of waste export ban is just months away.
If Scott Morrison wants the Australian people to take him seriously he needs to deliver less shiny wrapping and more substance, fewer claims and more action in addressing Australia’s waste crisis.