Waste & Recycling and Healthy Oceans portfolio holder, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, today has launched the Greens’ response to the national recycling crisis and the growing problem of marine plastic pollution.

“Australians love their recycling. Around the country, households have been doing the right thing for years.

“But the system is failing and the industry is in crisis. This problem has been a long time coming and the Chinese restriction on importing waste has tipped it over the edge. Big packaging companies have avoided responsibility and this Federal government has been asleep at the wheel.

“Industry is crying out for national leadership. There needs to be a comprehensive Federal Government plan to solve the crisis. We can either turn towards opportunity or turn towards a meltdown in kerbside recycling. This policy is a blueprint to seize that opportunity.

“In this policy launch, the Greens are providing that national leadership and we are calling on the Federal Government to follow.

“The China restriction on importing our recycling waste is an opportunity to reboot Australia’s recycling industry with an approach that is both good for jobs and good for the environment.

“We have to deal with our own waste here, not rely on others to take it from us. We need to sort our rubbish better to improve the quality of the waste streams we produce to allow our local manufacturing industries to turn it again into useful products. For every job that goes with throwing our rubbish into landfill, we can create six jobs if we recycle and repurpose that waste.

“With a bit of help, industry can retool to use that plastic and paper waste that once went to China, here in Australia. And we can build a substantive manufacturing sector providing more environmentally sustainable products.

“The Greens plan to reboot recycling involves:

• Investing $500 million over five years into infrastructure and programs to improve the quality of recycling. This will administered by the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC) and will require matching funding, dollar-for-dollar, from state governments.
• Introduce mandatory product stewardship schemes, including a national container deposit scheme.
• Distributing $10 million in grants to community groups and social enterprises to run high quality reuse and recycling centres.
• Establish mandatory targets for the procurement of recycled material at all levels of government.
• Recommit to and reinvigorate the National Waste Policy.

“But we need to go further than saving the recycling industry. We need to stop creating so much waste, particularly plastic waste.

“Plastic is everywhere in our lives. Unfortunately, a lot of it ends up in the oceans and our oceans are turning into a plastic soup.

“As well as rebooting recycling the Greens plan would start the enormous task of tackling plastic pollution.

The Greens will:

• Work towards a phase-out of single use plastics.
• Introduce an immediate national ban on microbeads and single-use plastic bags.
• Allocate $50 million to establish a Plastic Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) to help clean up our oceans and improve plastic recycling.

Link to policy here: https://peter-whish-wilson.greensmps.org.au/sites/default/files/Reboot%20recycling.pdf