House debates

Thursday, 18 February 2021

Matters of Public Importance


3:39 pm

Photo of Trevor EvansTrevor Evans (Brisbane, Liberal Party, Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management) Share this | Hansard source

Last year, Australia got its first national recycling laws. The nation-leading Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020 does a lot to protect our environment, and it was delivered by the Morrison government. Under our new recycling laws, Australia will no longer be able to export various waste streams overseas, things like waste plastics, waste glass, whole tyres and contaminated paper and cardboard. And record co-funding being delivered by our government is right now helping to build new state-of-the-art infrastructure in every state and territory to ensure we have the facilities here in this country to recover, process and recycle our waste streams onshore. By leveraging this record federal funding, and getting it matched dollar for dollar both by the states and territories and by industry, we've created a Recycling Modernisation Fund that is supporting almost $1 billion worth of new recycling infrastructure being built right now across our nation.

The Morrison government's reform agenda for the waste and recycling industries has been unprecedented. No federal government before now has ever done this much to tackle this environmental protection priority head-on. Labor, in office, simply left it in the too-hard basket, along with so many other issues. Led by the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Environment, the Morrison government is driving a once-in-a-generation transformation of Australia's waste and recycling industries to deliver greater environmental sustainability and protection in Australia. And it's about economic sustainability as well as environmental sustainability, because this will enable much of our waste to be sorted, processed and turned into a valuable commodity that can be used again and again in Aussie manufacturing to support the making of the next generation of fantastic products. That's the circular economy, and that's true environmental and economic sustainability in action.

Our practical reforms, which will reduce Australia's waste footprint, our action under the National Waste Policy and our record funding, including through the Recycling Modernisation Fund, will create over 10,000 new green jobs in recycling across Australia in the next decade. And, unlike Labor, the coalition government know that protecting the environment and building an economy is not a zero-sum game. Taking care of our environment also means driving practical reforms to empower industry to take more responsibility for the products they make and sell across each product's life cycle. That's why we're also turbocharging product stewardship.

Product stewardship, of course, is a proud coalition legacy. Australia's first Product Stewardship Act was created by the Howard government to stop dirty used oil being dumped in drains and groundwater. Today, that scheme has grown to the point where it supports the recovery and the recycling of about 300 million litres of dirty used oil per year, supporting jobs at 11 oil recycling refineries around the country and protecting our environment. That's why, in addition to strengthening the legislative framework to empower industries to make new recycling schemes, the Morrison government is also, through its National Product Stewardship Investment Fund, investing in 15 new, exciting projects to help set up new, exciting recycling schemes in many important environmental priority areas. I'm talking about a new national product stewardship scheme for farm products, such as dairy silage wraps; a new recycling scheme for cosmetic waste; expanding the recycling programs for e-waste; a textiles recycling scheme; a new scheme to recycle the plastics in plant nurseries; and many more. Together, these schemes will not only reduce tens of thousands of tonnes of waste going into landfill each year, but in many cases they will stop things like plastics, dangerous chemicals and hazardous materials from leaching into the surrounding environment, our waterways and our oceans.

We know there's still much more to do, but the Morrison government will continue on our mission of reducing Australia's waste footprint, boosting our onshore recycling capabilities, and tackling the plastics challenge. And we know that there's no other political party in Australia that goes even close to matching the Morrison government's funding commitments, our policies and our engagement when it comes to recycling. That's why there is this long and growing list of not just recycling industry players, experts and researchers, but also environmental groups and community organisations working so closely with this government on our reforms and supporting our policies. And we do it far more effectively than those on the other side.


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