Australia is facing a waste crisis that is adding to already pressing environmental challenges and climate change. Labor announced a $90 million dollar plan to tackle waste reinforcing waste management as a national issue. This is a welcome announcement given the global steps to reducing waste, with the EU recently banning single use plastic items by 2021. As waste is being acknowledged as an issue of national and global importance, it’s worth investigating the policies on waste for the upcoming federal election.
Labor’s plans seem to be a step in the right direction with policies that address waste at a national level. However they have been criticised for not going far enough to make an impact on waste reduction. Microbeads and plastic bags have already been voluntarily reduced by bans from supermarkets and industry. A ban on single use plastic products could help to drastically reduce plastic waste across Australia in the same way as the EU. Meanwhile Labor’s policy for recycled products in all road projects and $60 million recycling fund, is an attempt to bolster the recycling industry in Australia. This is necessary if the Australian recycling industry is to have any way of surviving economically.
The Coalition released their waste policies also stating a ban of microbeads and making a notably strong commitment to reducing the impact of packaging waste by Australian products. How that will occur or be enforced remains unknown. The Coalition takes a general approach to funding waste as part of broader environmental protection and clean-up projects without targeting industry responsibility for waste pollution.
The Greens were first to release waste policies. Their approach is to focus on local and state government issues such as landfill, recycling, food waste collection and composting. They also propose national bans, specifically of non-recyclable and excess packaging such as take-away food and drink containers. The Greens propose prohibiting the exportation of hazardous waste and e-waste to countries that cannot manage it to the same stringent health, safety and environmental standards as Australia (which pretty much covers any export).
Generally importing countries have lower waste management standards, which has enabled Australia to dump without responsibility or consideration of the harm it is causing elsewhere. The table below provides more detail on each party’s waste policies.
Please note ZWV is not affiliated with any political party, but we encourage you to ask your local candidates what they are doing to tackle the war on waste.
The Greens: greens.org.au/policies/waste