Resource recovery and the circular economy
Local councils continue to take steps to divert waste from landfill, recover valuable wasted resources and buy Australian recycled content. This sparks innovation and creates jobs, as well as delivering improved environmental outcomes. These steps help the transition to a circular economy that values resources by keeping products and materials in use for as long as possible.
Councils have been working to find effective solutions to the Chinese Government's National Sword Policy as well as similar policies in other countries that enforce strict contamination thresholds on imports of recycled materials, such as unsorted plastics from kerbside collections.
Councils are also responding to the Australian Government's waste export ban that will increase the amount of waste material that stays in Australia to be recycled and reprocessed into value added products.
NSW and Australian government policy
The NSW Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy 2014-21 sets directions for a range of priority areas to support investment in infrastructure, encourage innovation and improve recycling behaviour, as well as develop new markets for recycled materials and reduce litter and illegal dumping. A key part of the Strategy is the NSW Plastics Action Plan, which outlines a suite of actions to address plastic at all points of the plastics lifecycle, from production and consumption to disposal and recycling. There will be a transition year in 2021-22 from the Waste Less Recycle More initiative to the new Strategy.
The Australian Government’s 2018 National Waste Policy provides a framework for collective action by businesses, governments, communities and individuals until 2030. The supporting National Waste Policy Action Plan creates targets and actions that will guide investment and national efforts to 2030 and complements and supports NSW and local government level initiatives.
A Sustainable Procurement Guide for local government in NSW is available, as well as Sustainable Choice to assist councils in integrating sustainability into procurement systems, and to purchase sustainable products and services.
Reinvesting the waste levy collected from the community and industry, in a coordinated, state-wide recycling and waste management approach that drives a circular economy as advocated by LGNSW’s Save our Recycling campaign could boost recycling and future proof our waste and resource recovery systems.
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