Australia is serious about reducing our waste and putting valuable recycled materials to work.
To do this we are:
- working to meet or beat 80% recovery rate of our waste by 2030
- regulating the export of glass, plastic, tyres, paper and cardboard
- investing more than A$1 billion to turbocharge our waste and recycling industries
- supporting industry-led recycling schemes through the A$26 million National Product Stewardship Investment Fund
- halving our food waste by 2030.
Australia offers nearly A$70 billion in grants, incentives and funding pools to Australian-based companies across priority sectors.
Australia is committed to creating enough onshore capacity to reprocess waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres, which were previously exported, keeping these value-added materials in our economy. The Recycling and Clean Energy National Manufacturing Priority road map identifies growth opportunities in:
- recyclable products and packaging
- cleaner feedstocks for remanufacturing (and enabling tech)
- products from recycled feedstocks (such as plastic, organic waste or e-waste)
- recycling clean energy components (including PV panels, wind turbines and batteries).
A future circular economy in just three areas – food, transport and the built environment – could create an economic benefit to Australia of A$23 billion in GDP by 2025. (Source: KPMG)
Australia’s waste sector is undergoing a seismic shift. We’re improving resource recovery, increasing the use of recycled material and better managing waste material flows and transitioning to renewable energy sources. There’s strong support for pioneer entrepreneurs who are designing for the future and disrupting the way we extract, manufacture, reuse and recycle resources and products.
Reducing our footprint by making a greater impact
To drive the evolution to a circular economy, Australia is backing schemes to modernise and transform how we manage and treat waste under the National Waste Policy Action Plan.
This is supported by the $A250 million Recycling Modernisation Fund, which is on track to generate over A$1 billion of investment in recycling infrastructure and drive a billion-dollar transformation of Australia’s resource recovery industry. The RMF will modernise Australia’s recycling infrastructure increasing our circular economy capabilities by finding innovative solutions for onshore recycling and supporting remanufacturing of products with recycled content. This will ensure we can achieve commitments under the National Plastics Plan and support Australians to buy locally recycled products.
Australia’s transformation into a circular economy demands new technologies and expertise. To grow their businesses, local firms are looking for co-funding and collaborations. That means a wealth of opportunities for companies that can offer innovative waste management solutions, information systems and products.
Australian companies are transforming commercial and household waste into furniture, decking, fencing, road and rail infrastructure and much more.
The Australian Government is increasing its purchase of products with recycled content to generate demand for recycled materials.
Video: Circular economy in Australia
Incentives, grants and support
- The A$15 billion National Reconstruction Fund will drive investment in key sectors focusing on value adding and capability development to leverage Australia’s natural and competitive strengths, supporting new and emerging industries including recycling and clean energy. Keep up to date with new funding measures and incentives as they are announced through the Department of Industry website.
- The A$250 million Recycling Modernisation Fund is transforming Australia’s waste and recycling industries to help them meet demand to process waste that was previously exported.
- The A$26 million National Product Stewardship Investment Fund will increase the number of industry-led product stewardship schemes in Australia and increase the recycling rates of existing schemes.
- The A$100 million Australian Recycling Investment Fund is supporting large-scale projects that use clean energy technologies in recycling waste plastics, paper, glass and tyres.
- The Australian Tax Office’s New Investment Engagement Service gives tailored guidance on tax issues to businesses planning significant new investments in Australia.
- A CSIRO spin-out, ASPIRE is a digital tool that empowers businesses to exchange waste as a resource
- Bingo Industries has embedded circularity as a core principle of its business, and is leading the charge in recycling construction waste.
- The Australian Circular Economy Hub demonstrates the diversity of circular economy activity in its collection of case studies.
- The Pact Group is investing A$500 million in new facilities, research and technology
- Pact, Cleanaway and Asahi Beverages are building Australia’s largest recycling plant in Albury, NSW, which will recycle around a billion PET plastic bottles each year.
It is crucial for science, industry and the community to collaboratively work together on societal solutions, such as the microrecycling science and new technologies I and my team at the Sustainable Materials Research and Technology Centre at the University of New South Wales (SMaRT@UNSW) are pioneering. Science, engineering and many technical skills are going play such a vital role in developing solutions.
Without these skills, we will not be able to enjoy some of the things we now take for granted, especially in these times of COVID-19. Recovering critical and valuable materials from waste must play a role in helping to electrify the world as we move towards renewable energies, reducing our carbon footprint, and being truly more sustainable. Collaborating with industry, researchers and the community to tackle these challenges will deliver better social, environmental and economic outcomes.