Budget Review 2022–23 Index
The Budget forecasts expenditure of $83.1 million over
5 years from 2022–23 to support Australia’s transition to a more circular waste
economy (as detailed below). This reflects the widely accepted position that efforts
to respond to climate change and the range of present and looming environmental
challenges facing Australia and the rest of the world will necessitate a diversity
of policy and implementation measures. These include
cleaner energy, reduced
greenhouse gas emissions, more efficient use of materials, extended
producer responsibility, sustainably designed and longer-life products with an
attendant robust right-to-repair policy. Recycling is
recognised as another of the policy instruments that can be deployed as part of
a strategically integrated approach to mitigate climate change and other
environmental and resource issues, such as pollution from waste disposal,
energy consumption and intergenerational resource availability (Technical summary
Climate change 2022—mitigation of climate change: sixth assessment report,
p. TS-10 and p. TS-102).
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate
In its 2022 report, the IPCC stated that, among other
measures, circular material flows can make an important contribution to the
decarbonisation of most industrial processes, and that in this regard, there
has been ‘renewed attention to end-use demand, material efficiency and more and
better-quality recycling measures’ (Climate change 2022, p. 11-7).
Building on an existing vision for
This year’s Budget continues
the Government’s explicit focus on reducing waste, transforming the
recycling sector and the deliberate transition to a circular
economy. In February 2022, the Government announced that it would push for
binding international plastic pollution treaty at the upcoming meeting of
the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi. At that meeting on 3 March
2022, nearly 200 nations, including Australia, unanimously agreed to create an
intergovernmental committee to negotiate and finalise a legally
binding plastics treaty by 2024. Negotiators were given a broad
mandate in terms of the objectives of the treaty to, among other things, target
plastic rubbish in all its forms, including microplastics polluting the
air, soil and food chain. The scope of the treaty will cover the entire
life cycle of plastic as this was a key demand of nations, businesses and
environment groups. The treaty could also, for the first time, introduce rules
on the production of new
plastic (raw polymer). The agreement also provides for the negotiation of
new rules around the design of plastic products—which are made from oil and gas—to
make recycling easier, encourage sustainable use, and spur better waste
Australia has already signed the Australian,
New Zealand and Pacific Island (ANZPAC) Plastics Pact calling for national
caps on plastic production. The Plastics Pact is a collaborative solution that
brings together key players in the region behind a shared vision of a circular
economy for plastic, in which plastic never becomes waste. Australia also
joined the Clean
Seas campaign in 2018, pledging to recycle or compost 70% of all plastic
packaging by 2025. The
Government has stated that it is ‘committed to stopping harmful plastics
from entering our oceans, choking up our waterways and destroying our marine
Prime Minister has stated that the same commitment has supported investment
in state-of-the-art recycling technology across Australia to contribute to the protection
of the environment, boost the economy and create jobs. In March 2021, the
Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley, and the Assistant Minister for Waste
Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans, jointly
announced the Government’s National
Plastics Plan 2021. The plan was developed after the National Plastics
Summit in March 2020 at which over 200 industry, government and community
leaders and experts discussed the issue.
In Budget measures:
budget paper no. 2: 2022–23, the Government
announced expenditure of $83.1 million over 5 years from 2022–23 to
support the enhancement and ‘transformation of Australia’s waste and recycling
sector and expedite Australia’s transition to a more circular waste economy’
(p. 51). This funding includes:
- $60.4 million over 4 years from 2022–23 to boost Australia’s
plastics recycling capabilities through state-of-the-art technologies and
advanced recycling solutions for ‘problematic plastics’ (such as soft plastics
like bread bags, chip packets, takeaway food containers and cling film) under
Modernisation Fund (RMF). The RMF was announced
in mid-2020 and launched in January 2021 to co-fund recycling
infrastructure projects for the sorting, processing and re-manufacturing of materials.
This funding was foreshadowed in
media release on 21 March 2022. Some $30.3 million of this funding will be
directed to regional areas to support investment in the recycling of plastics,
tyres, paper, and glass. This measure will boost the RMF to $250 million (building
on the $190 million announced last year) and help the Government reach its
target by 2025 of increasing the recycling or composting of plastic packaging
from 16% in 2017–18 to 70%, and achieving an average of 50% recycled content in
packaging (Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation, APCO
collective impact report, November 2021, p. 4).
This goal is consistent with the National
Packaging Targets for Industry, established in
2018, and with a global push for improved waste management systems discussed in
the United Nations 2018 report, Single-use
plastics: a roadmap for sustainability (Executive summary, p. 18). This
budget measure is also designed
to help drive a $1 billion transformation of the waste and recycling sector
to create new jobs through increased re-manufacturing.
- $18.2 million over 5 years from 2021–22 to improve awareness of
correct recycling techniques and to develop and promote a ‘ReMade in Australia’ brand
and certification scheme. The scheme aims to give consumers confidence and
pride in buying quality products that have been locally recycled and re-manufactured.
The ReMade in Australia campaign was launched on 6 December 2021 in a
joint media release by the Prime Minister, Minister for the Environment,
and the Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management.
- $4.4 million over 2 years from 2022–23 to support the delivery of
the Government’s waste export ban by reducing licence assessment timeframes and
helping industry to meet regulatory requirements.
Part of the expenditure
($10 million) for this measure was provided in the 2021–22 Budget. It is therefore
not a cost on the 2022–23 Budget. According to the Portfolio additional estimates statements 2021–22:
Agriculture, Water and the Environment portfolio the department had a budget of $9.8 million in administered payments and $0.2 million in
departmental payments for the National Recycling Campaign (p. 25).
Stakeholder and public commentary
The announcements on funding for waste management and
recycling have been generally well-received by industry
stakeholders. The CSIRO
estimates that the
developing waste plastics circular economy will add US$66.9 billion to the
global economy by 2025 (p. 6).
All online articles accessed April 2022
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