House debates

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Questions without Notice

Waste Management and Recycling

2:46 pm

Photo of Katie AllenKatie Allen (Higgins, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for the Environment. Will the minister please update the House on how Australia's world-leading waste and recycling industry is being transformed through the policies and leadership of the Morrison government?

Photo of Sussan LeySussan Ley (Farrer, Liberal Party, Minister for the Environment) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you to the member for Higgins for her question. The member for Higgins is indeed a waste warrior. She recently called for a parliamentary committee inquiry into recycling, and that report, Rubbish to resources, has just been handed down. Everybody is talking about recycling—turning our trash into valuable assets and new processing and manufacturing operations that make a difference as the Morrison government continues to take practical action that reduces waste and increases our recycling waste.

We said that we would ban the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres, and we have, through the passage of Australia's first ever national Recycling and Waste Reduction Act, last December. No longer will thousands of tonnes of mixed paper and plastic be shipped off overseas to be abandoned or burned or to otherwise contaminate the environment. In fact, since the ban was agreed, exports of plastic waste alone have fallen by about 5,000 tonnes a month.

The $1 billion transformation of our waste and recycling industry is well underway. We're seeing change. Change is happening everywhere and it's driving results. There will be 10,000 new Australian jobs, many of them in regional Australia, coming from this transformation, and 10 million tonnes of waste will no longer go into holes in the ground. Our Recycling Modernisation Fund is supporting investments in New South Wales, Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia and Victoria, and I'm glad to advise the member for Higgins that the RMF investment in Victoria will give households confidence in their recycling.

We're investing in a plastics reprocessing plant at Laverton, and it will deal with hard-to-process plastics, such as the HDPE of milk bottles. This investment will see milk bottles collected from the kerb side and going into the facility to be pelletised and reprocessed into food grade packaging. This is bottle-to-bottle recycling. That's why it's so important to encourage everyone to purchase bottles made from recycled plastics, because we don't just want to make recycled; we want to buy recycled.

The leadership and initiative shown by the Morrison government has given business the confidence to step up in this space. This morning, with the member for Brisbane, I was at McDonald's in Manuka and I held the last ever plastic straw from any McDonald's outlet anywhere in Australia. Our Plastics Summit last year encouraged McDonald's, and other industries, to step up and take the plastic challenge. McDonald's has phased out 512 million straws used in its restaurants each year—the very last straw.

Waste is not an environmental problem to solve. It's an economic opportunity to create.