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Victorian Government moves on green procurement

Government procurement is a core part of Victoria’s new recycling plan.

Recycling industry applauds the Andrews Government’s $37 million package to boost the market for recycled materials in the state, which follows Senate inquiry’s recommendation that governments adopt green procurement.

Victoria’s new Recycling Industry Strategic Plan, which will drive demand for products containing recycled materials through government procurement, has been welcomed by recycling and resource recovery businesses. 

National peak body the Australian Council of Recycling said the package, which includes funding for infrastructure and community education, “delivers needed certainty in uncertain times.”

“The lesson for all from the China Sword situation is that we need to pivot to a secure, self-reliant system of domestic recycling. This package helps make that important transition,” said Pete Shmigel, chief executive of ACOR.

Public policy support and clear rules meant the recycling industry could be more confident about private investment, including enhanced reprocessing technology in the state, he said.

Victoria’s Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio on Tuesday announced the $37 million package, which includes $8.3 million for improved recycling infrastructure and $2 million to identify new and innovative uses for recycled materials.

Under the plan, Sustainability Victoria, in consultation with the Department of Treasury and Finance, will assist government departments and agencies to “identify opportunities and, where appropriate, develop their own targets to increase procurement of recycled content.”

An education component will help reduce the contamination of kerbside recycling, she said.

The plan includes the $13 million temporary relief package announced in February to support the ongoing kerbside collection of household recyclable waste.

Since January, when China clamped down on the Australian waste it would accept, local government and waste and recycling peak bodies have been warning of a mounting “recycling crisis” that threatens to derail councils’ kerbside collections in some states.

ACOR singled out the Victorian package’s measures to “buy recycled” by government.

“Closing the loop means opening up jobs and business growth, and this commitment to recycled content should be mirrored by more companies in the packaging supply chain too, a move the community strongly supports,” Mr Shmigel said.

The plan’s support for better equipment and community education were also appropriate and welcome, he said.

The Victorian Government’s announcement comes after a Senate inquiry into Australia’s waste and recycling industry found that Commonwealth departments and state and local governments should adopt more explicit ‘green procurement’ policies, as Government News reported on Tuesday.

That inquiry found Australia’s recycling industry is “in crisis” and its future in “grave danger” following years of policy failures across all levels of government.

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