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Australia has this week pledged $190 million AUD toward overhauling the nation’s recycling system, a move expected to prevent over 10 million tonnes of waste from ending up in landfills around the world. 

The new multi-million-dollar fund will assist companies which sort and convert tyres, glass, plastic and paper waste into a range of beneficial products. The pledge follows a long list of recent government injections into improving domestic recycling capacities — all of which were spurred by China’s decision to stop accepting waste imports from Australia in 2018. 

Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said Australia has a “once in a generation opportunity” to alter its waste industry.

"As we cease shipping our waste overseas, the waste and recycling transformation will reshape our domestic waste industry, driving job creation and putting valuable materials back into the economy,” Ley said in a media release. “This is a once in a generation opportunity to remodel waste management, reduce pressure on our environment and create economic opportunity.” 

Ley added that the contents in recycling bins across the country will now be used to make roads and carpets.

She urged Australians, however, to remain vigilant in buying less and generating less waste overall.

The announcement of the $190 million fund hasn’t been without criticism.

The Australian Labor and Greens parties have denounced the plan for failing to address the continued production of single-use plastic products. 

Peter Whish-Wilson, the Greens waste and recycling spokesman, has called for regulatory reform.

"All the money in the world isn’t going to fix the waste crisis if we don’t improve the way we recycle. This means stopping the problem at its source: we need to stop producing so much waste and invest in a ‘circular economy’,” he told the Guardian. “The recycling crisis is a quality crisis — we need to improve the quality of the material that is going into the recycling process to begin with.” 

In addition to the $190 million injection — which is contingent on co-funding from industry, states and territories — the government will also commit $35 million to the National Waste Policy Action Plan and $24.6 million to improve the ability to gather data on the nation’s waste. 

The National Waste Policy Action Plan seeks to reduce total waste generated in Australia by 10% per person by 2030, halve the amount of organic waste sent to landfill by 2030 and phase out “problematic and unnecessary plastics” by 2025.


Defend the Planet

10 Million Tonnes of Waste Will Avoid Landfills Thanks to a New Australian Recycling Fund

By Madeleine Keck