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1 year ago
Tackling Australia’s waste crisis requires national leadership which the Morrison government should provide through today’s Meeting of Environment Ministers.
We are still waiting to see the Morrison government make good on its promise to act on the National Waste Policy Action Plan commitment to eliminate unnecessary single-use plastic by 2025 and to introduce procurement targets to support demand for recycled waste materials.
It beggars belief that while a number of state and territory governments move to eliminate harmful single-use plastics Australia does not have a harmonised or coordinated national plan because of the hands-off approach of the Morrison government. This is exactly the same failure of leadership that has resulted in a variety of container deposit schemes being adopted around the country. Is it any wonder that the Australian Beverages Council has described the need to retrofit a harmonised approach to container deposit schemes as its number one policy priority. Labor promised a national CDS in 2019, but the Morrison government has consistently abdicated its responsibility to show leadership in this space.
Earlier this year industry called on the Morrison government to ensure we don’t see the same lack of coordination when it comes to single-use plastics. There is no doubt that national leadership is required to make this reform less complicated and costly for business, and to build widespread community awareness.
At the same time the waste and resource management sector is still waiting for the Morrison government to deliver the promised procurement targets that will be necessary to stimulate demand for the increased production of higher-quality recyclate following the phase-in of the waste export bans. Sensible procurement policy should be part of the COVID-19 recovery plan, and is essential if government stimulus spending is to deliver new manufacturing jobs and better environmental outcomes as we build a more circular economy.
It is not good enough for the Morrison government to break its waste promises, while expecting state, territory, and local governments to carry all the work in addressing Australia’s waste crisis. There is a window of opportunity to ensure that single-use plastic is eliminated in a consistent, harmonised, coordinated fashion, but that window is closing. If the present inaction continues it will place unnecessary burdens on business, muddle the task of community education, and lead to worse outcomes for our environment.