26 November 2020
Developments in government policy in the past month include Western Australia’s plan to phase out single-use plastics, funding announcements to support waste management, recycling and innovation in NSW and Victoria and progress on the Commonwealth’s waste legislation.
Western Australia’s Plan for Plastics
On 8 November the Western Australian Government released a new plan to reduce single-use plastics, Western Australia’s Plan for Plastics (the plan). The plan outlines four core strategies to deliver a state-wide phase-out of a wide range of single-use plastic items. The four core strategies are:
· Engagement and education.
· Government leadership and regulation.
· Stewardship and sustainability.
· Research and innovation.
The plan notes that the WA Government will continue to work with APCO to address plastic packaging. The Government will also establish a “Plastic Free Places” trial to support the phase-out of plastic food service items and barrier/produce bags.
The plan sets out a timeframe for next steps including:
· From 2020: Stakeholder engagement.
· From 2021: “Plastic Free Places” program trial and development of education and behaviour change plans.
· 2021 – 2023: First phase of regulation – phase-out of plastic plates, cutlery, stirrers, straws, thick plastic bags, polystyrene food containers and helium balloon releases.
· 2024 – 2026: Second stage of regulation – phase-out of barrier/produce bags, polystyrene packaging, cotton buds with plastic shafts, microbeads, and oxo-degradable plastics.
NSW and Victoria funding announcements
On 17 November the NSW Government announced that $240 million will be provided to support waste management and recycling over the next four years, including $96 million in 2020-21, for initiatives that accelerate the State’s transition to a circular economy, the 20-year Waste Strategy and Plastics Plan, and the continuation of the Waste Less, Recycle More program.
On 20 November the Victorian Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio launched a $7 million Circular Economy Business Innovation Centre (CEBIC). CEBIC will bring together businesses, industry groups, research institutions and not-for-profit organisations to create solutions to reduce waste, increase recycling and reuse, and generate new revenue for Victorian businesses. It will work with a variety of businesses – from farms and cafes to factories and appliance shops – to streamline the way they operate, reduce waste, and improve efficiency. The centre will do research and offer expert advice and resources through a virtual hub, facilitate collaboration and events, and offer grants and support for businesses. Its first focus area will be reducing food and organic waste. Information is available at www.cebic.vic.gov.au.
Status of the Commonwealth’s Recycling and Waste Reduction Bill
The Commonwealth Government’s Recycling and Waste Reduction Bill was introduced to the Commonwealth Parliament on 27 August. The Bill will give effect to the waste export bans, and replace and update the Product Stewardship Act 2011. As noted in the October Member Update, a Senate Inquiry into the Bill revealed widespread support for it.
The Bill has now been passed by the House of Representatives without amendment and was introduced to the Senate on 9 November.