The recycling industry will be bolstered by $20 million in a bid to reduce dependence on landfill and create jobs, as part of a push to stop Australian recyclable waste being exported overseas.
Federal Industry Minister Karen Andrews will today unveil funds for businesses that develop technology or products that grow the domestic recycling industry.
Scott Morrison struck a deal with state and territory leaders at Friday’s Council of Australian Governments meeting to work towards a timeline to ban the export of recyclable plastic, paper, glass and tyres.
“This funding will strengthen Australia’s recycling industry and help us achieve higher recycling rates,” Ms Andrews said.
“Boosting our onshore plastic recycling industry has the potential to create over three times as many jobs as exporting our plastic waste, ensuring a more sustainable and prosperous future.
“This funding will reduce the nation’s dependence on landfills, reduce the impact of plastics on our environment, and support Australian businesses and researchers to develop new markets and design products for recycled plastics.”
The federal move comes on top of the Victorian Labor government’s decision to inject $11.3m into the state’s broken recycling system, as well as flagging significant reforms to waste management in the state.
Premier Daniel Andrews offered a $6.6m package to assist 33 affected councils left with waste because of the collapse of waste exporter SKM. The state will also spend $4.7m to support projects that improve the quality of 100,000 tonnes of recycled material.
The Prime Minister’s in-principle agreement with state and territory leaders to ban recyclable waste exports was struck following concerns that exported Australian waste was being dumped in the oceans. While a timetable is yet to be decided, Mr Morrison said on Friday: “I don’t think it’ll be years. I think it could happen a lot sooner than that”.
He took to social media yesterday to read letters from children who were concerned about the amount of plastic ending up in the ocean. “I’m pleased to let them know that we are banning our waste being shipped overseas and that it will be recycled and reused here in Australia,” he tweeted.
Only 12 per cent of the 103kg of plastic waste generated per person in Australia each year is recycled, mostly overseas, according to government figures.
There has been increased scrutiny on Australia’s recycling industry following the collapse of SKM and after China banned most plastic imports. Malaysia and Indonesia intend to return shipping containers filled with contaminated Australian waste.
The $20m funding boost will be made available through the federal government’s Co-operative Research Centres Projects grants, for businesses that collaborate to develop new technologies.
The grants are worth up to $3m and the benefiting private enterprises must be able to match the funding. There will also be $10.8m for critical minerals projects, as part of the federal government’s strategy for finding new uses for rare minerals.