Time to sort through Australia's unique waste issues

Media release

8 October 2019

The National Meeting of Environment Ministers in Adelaide next month will hear a clear challenge from the waste industry for all levels of government to step up and be part of a national recycling solution.

A visit to the largest mixed recycling facility in the Southern Hemisphere in Perth today, followed by a roundtable with West Australian industry leaders, has highlighted both the shared and the and unique issues being faced around the country as the Morrison Government looks to ban the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres.

Today Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister Ben Morton and I saw how the use of high tech electronic technology and skilled hand sorting is resulting in just twelve per cent of materials at the Cleanaway plant ending in landfill.

WA has achieved consistency across local government areas when it comes to what goes into recycling and what doesn’t, but faces challenges due to its small population and vast expanse. The State’s proximity to Asia has also led to a heavy reliance on export markets.

It is a reminder of the differing challenges we face across the country.

Today’s meeting underlined industry’s view that there is a way forward and with certainty and confidence, investment is available to build the onshore recycling capacity we need. 

What is clear from meetings across the East and West Coast is that governments need to work together and to look for opportunities within the current infrastructure boom to grow our remanufacturing capability.

Markets are critical and the principle of State, Local and Federal Governments mandating the inclusion of recycled, or more correctly remanufactured, materials is something we need to look at very seriously.

Environment Ministers meet on November 8 and the meetings with industry to date leave me optimistic that we can set a realistic timetable, albeit one that takes into account some of the country’s unique geographic circumstances.

Minister for the Environment