National policy and action plan
1. Regulate waste exports
We will regulate the export of waste glass, plastic, tyres, paper and cardboard. We will do this through:
- a ban on the export of unprocessed waste (COAG waste export ban)
- new laws to assure the standard of processed waste exports (Recycling and Waste Reduction laws).
This will roll out over time from 1 January 2021.
The $250 million Recycling Modernisation Fund is a national initiative that is expanding Australia’s capacity to sort, process and remanufacture glass, plastic, tyres, paper and cardboard.
- Australian Recycling Investment Fund (Clean Energy Finance Corporation)
- Cooperative Research Centres Project Grants (business.gov.au)
2. Reduce total waste generated by 10% per person by 2030
In 2018–19, Australia generated 2.94 tonnes of waste per person. We all have a role to play to reduce the waste we produce.
To do this, we’re focussing on:
- avoiding single use items such as single use plastics (e.g. straws and disposables)
- reducing food waste
- disposing of packaging correctly, with the help of the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL)
- supporting buying of recycled content
- encouraging innovation and sustainable design
- sharing knowledge, educating and changing behaviour.
Meeting this target means each of us generates about 285kg less waste every year.
3. Recover 80% of all waste by 2030
This is an 80% average resource recovery rate from all waste streams. It follows the waste hierarchy. Avoiding waste is the most preferred option, disposal is the least.
Resource recovery makes use of waste material. This includes recycling and recovering energy or other resources from waste.
To recover waste, we focus on:
- increasing industry capacity through our Recycling Modernisation Fund
- product stewardship, where manufacturers are responsible for the entire lifecycle of products and help consumers return used products
- creating and adopting national standards to policy and regulation
- improving access to waste and recycling services for regional Australians.
Meeting this target means we recover an extra 15 million tonnes of material every year.
4. Significantly increase the use of recycled content by governments and industry
We need to:
- buy more high-quality products made from recycled content
- drive demand for more products to be made from recycled materials.
Without this demand, more waste ends up in landfill.
We encourage all governments to seriously consider buying more goods containing recycled content, each time they make a purchase.
Meeting this target means we buy and use more products with recycled content and keep resources out of landfill.
5. Phase out problematic and unnecessary plastics by 2025
Plastic litter is one of the most insidious forms of pollution.
We also need to safely manage chemicals and hazardous waste. These materials could harm us and the environment.
To phase out these problems, we are focusing on:
- reducing and cleaning up plastic litter
- reducing reliance on problematic plastics, i.e. single use plastics
- sound management of chemicals and hazardous waste.
Read about the March 2020 National Plastics Summit.
Meeting this target means we do not use harmful plastics items that pollute our environment and our oceans.
6. Halve the amount of organic waste sent to landfill by 2030
We are improving the recovery of organic waste. We do this by:
- developing a voluntary commitment program for industry
- supporting research and technological improvements.
Find out what to do with your organic waste.
See how we are tackling Australia’s food waste by reading the:
Meeting this target means 2.7 million less tonnes of organic waste goes to landfill every year. This will reduce the release of harmful methane gas into the atmosphere.
7. Provide data to support better decisions
We are improving how we collect and report on waste data.
Our National Waste Accounts gives a snapshot of the flow of waste materials.
Our National Waste Reports provide detailed waste management data.
The Waste Data Visualisation Platform is yet to be developed. It will make waste data easier to read and compare through improved visuals and analytical tools. $20.6 million is being invested over four years (2020 – 2024) to develop the new visualisation platform.
Meeting this target means we have the best possible information to track and inform how we reduce our waste and increase our recycling.