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The Australian government announced Monday that it would commit $190m to a new recycling modernisation fund (RMF).

The government said the fund would generate $600m in recycling investment, create 10,000 jobs, and divert more than 10 million tonnes of waste from landfill. Commonwealth funding is to be contingent on co-funding from industry, states, and territories.

The fund is to support innovative investment in new infrastructure to sort, process, and remanufacture materials such as mixed plastic, paper, tyres, and glass.

Other initiatives that the Australian government is pursuing to transform the country's waste and recycling system include:

  • A $35m pledge to implementing Commonwealth commitments under Australia’s National Waste Policy Action Plan, which sets the direction for waste management and recycling in Australia until 2030.
  • A $24.6m commitment to improve Australia’s national waste data so it can measure recycling outcomes and track progress against our national waste targets.
  • The introduction of new Commonwealth waste legislation to formally enact the government’s waste export ban and encourage companies to take greater responsibility for the waste they generate, from product design through to recycling, remanufacture or disposal (product stewardship).

The moves are part of a national strategy to change the way Australia looks at waste, grow our economy, protect the environment and reach a national resource recovery target of 80 per cent by 2030. They also come ahead of the COAG ban on exporting waste plastic, paper, glass, and tyres, which will come into full effect in 2024.

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said the waste and recycling transformation will reshape Australia’s domestic waste industry, create jobs, and put valuable materials back into the economy.

“Australians need to have faith that the items they place in their kerbside recycling bins will be re-used in roads, carpet, building materials and a range of other essential items. At the same time, we need to stop throwing away tonnes of electronic waste and batteries each year and develop new ways to recycle valuable resources,” she said.

“As we pursue National Waste Policy Action Plan targets, we need manufacturers and industry to take a genuine stewardship role that helps create a sustainable circular economy. This is a once in a generation opportunity to remodel waste management, reduce pressure on our environment and create economic opportunity.”

Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Trevor Evans said the expansion of Australia’s recycling capacity followed close consultation with industry.

“Our targeted investment will grow Australia’s circular economy, create more jobs and build a stronger onshore recycling industry,” he said.

“Australian companies are turning plastics and household waste into furniture, decking, fencing and clothing, and we are developing new domestic markets for recycled materials by setting national standards for recycled content in roads and making recycled products a focus of procurement for infrastructure, defence estate management and general government purchasing.”

Evans said the targeted investment would grow Australia’s circular economy and build a stronger onshore recycling industry.

“Companies are already moving, with The Pact Group announcing a $500m investment in facilities, research, and technology; Coca-Cola Amatil committing to new recycling targets; and Pact, Cleanaway, and Asahi Beverages establishing a $30m recycling facility in Albury.”

Packaging News

Yesterday Victoria recorded the country’s worst day in the Covid-19 pandemic, reporting 15 deaths and 725 new cases. Victoria also went into a period of extraordinarily strict lockdown as the state government scrambles to get the outbreak under control, forcing many businesses to shut their doors.

Pact Group, Cleanaway Waste Management, and Asahi Beverages have formally entered a joint venture to build a $45m recycling plant in Albury/Wodonga. The companies say the facility will substantially increase the amount of PET produced in Australia from local waste.

The July/August edition of PKN Packaging News is out now. Whether you read it online or in print, it's packed with the latest news and insight for the packaging industry.