CANBERRA, AUSTRALIA (AP) — The Australian government introduced legislation yesterday that would phase out exports of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres beginning January next year.
The legislation introduced to Parliament aims to end the export of 645,000 metric tonnes of unprocessed trash that Australia ships overseas each year, usually to Asian ports. Waste glass exports would be banned from January 1, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
“It’s our waste. It’s our responsibility,” Morrison said. “We’ve got to deal with it and recycle it and repurpose it and reuse it here to both drive jobs in the recycling sector and also to improve the quality of our environment.”
Morrison said waste plastic was a key issue that he had raised with Australia’s South Pacific neighbours and with the East Asian Summit and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
“Waste plastic in oceans is destroying communities, it’s destroying their livelihoods, it’s destroying their health,” Morrison said.
Waste disposal has become an increasingly pressing problem around the world since 2017 when China, previously its main destination, barred imports of almost all foreign waste.
The Australian legislation would establish a national industry framework for recycling and create a AUD190 million recycling modernisation fund.
The government also plans to create 10,000 new jobs in the waste and recycling sector, a 32 per cent increase on current staffing levels.
More incentives would be offered to companies to take greater environmental responsibility for the products they make and for what happens with those products and packaging at the end of their lives.
The legislation was welcomed by the Australian Council of Recycling and the Australian Food and Grocery Council.