The Australian government is investing around $132 million in a new fund to modernize the country’s waste and recycling capacity. An export ban on sending waste to other countries looms ahead.
Every year Australians generate approximately 67 million metric tons of trash, and that amount has only been growing, officials said.
In response, Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government established a Recycling Modernization Fund that’s expected to stimulate more than $418 million in recycling investment and “drive a billion-dollar transformation of Australia’s waste and recycling capacity,” according to the Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley.
Early in 2018, a Chinese ban on waste imports was estimated to affect 1.25 million metric tons of Australia’s trash, Reuters reported at the time, citing research from the consultancy Blue Environment. Although an initial Australian plan to stop the export of waste was set to begin on July 1, restrictions related to covid-19 pushed that deadline to January 1, 2021, the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment noted.
The new government fund supports investment in infrastructure for sorting, processing, and remanufacturing materials including mixed plastic, paper, tires, and glass, officials said. They added that the Commonwealth funding is contingent on investments from industry, states, and territories.
Waste legislation also encourages companies to improve their product stewardship and take responsibility for the waste they generate, according to government officials.
“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, defense estate management, and general government purchasing,” said Trevor Evans, Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management.