The government says it will strengthen procurement guidelines to ensure every Commonwealth contract prioritises sustainability, in a move to boost demand for recycled products.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison made the announcement during a speech at the National Plastics Summit in Canberra on Monday.
Mr Morrison said one the of key pillars of the government’s plan to address the problem of plastic waste is encouraging demand for recycled products.
“That’s why I am pleased to announce the first of a number of measures my government will take to build demand for these recycled products,” he said.
“We will be strengthening the Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines to make sure every procurement undertaken by a Commonwealth agency considers environmental sustainability and the use of recycled content as a factor in determining value for money.”
He also flagged a Budget announcement around state waste levies and waste management infrastructure investment.
As reported by Government News recently, only 8 per cent of the $2.6 billion collected by states and territories through waste levies has been reinvested in recycling infrastructure and technology.
Mr Morrison said there was a need to invest in technological innovation to maximise the value of recycled products and minimise costs.
“People are putting and paying fees on waste management levies that isn’t finding it’s way into recycling infrastructure and technology. And that has to change.
“I will have more to say on this closer to the up-coming Budget, but the Commonwealth stands ready to work with states, to co-invest in these critical infrastructure facilities, and with industry,” Mr Morrison said.
He said the commonwealth is also working with state and territory governments on “critical upgrades” that would revolutionise their recycling capacity.
“We will invest in these facilities with governments and with industry on a one-to-one-to-one basis,” he said.
Mr Morrison said there was a need to work in partnership with the region, state, territory and local governments as well as industry, including manufacturers, supermarkets, customers and waste operators.
Every year Australia offshores some 1.4 million tonnes of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres, Mr Morrison said, much of which ends up in the environment and waterways. Only 21 per cent of plastic waste that goes into yellow recycling bins is actually recycled.
“We are getting ripped off,” he said.
In two weeks Mr Morrison will meet with state and territory leaders at COAG to finalise the details of the export ban of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres agreed to last year.
Infrastructure Infrastructure Australia last week listed National Waste and Recycling Management as one of five new national High Priority Initiatives in its latest Priority List.
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