The war on plastic waste gets a $60 million budget

The government’s recycling development fund will get a $60 million boost in the federal budget, with the national science agency also set to launch a plastics recycling research program.

As part of next week’s federal budget, the Coalition will expand the Recycling Modernization Fund (RMF) to a total of $250 million and open a new funding stream focused on recycling plastics used in bread bags and packets of crisps, to be delivered on a co-investment basis.

In a separate announcement over the weekend, CSIRO will invest $50 million in its Ending Plastic Waste mission, aiming for an 80% reduction in plastic waste entering the Australian environment by 2030. innovation in bioplastics will be created at Murdoch University in collaboration with CSIRO as part of this mission.

The federal government already aims to recycle or compost 70% of plastic packaging by 2025, while ensuring that, on average, packaging is made of at least 50% recycled material.

The federal budget will include an additional $60 million for the Recycling Modernization Fund

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the budget announcement built on the government’s existing commitments to reducing plastic waste.

“This new funding stream, dedicated to helping solve the problem of hard-to-recycle plastic waste, demonstrates our commitment to investing in Australian industry, growing the recycling sector and creating a stronger economy and a stronger future. for Australia,” Mr Morrison said.

“Three years ago, I made a pledge at the UN to keep plastic waste out of our oceans, a pledge that sparked a recycling revolution in Australia. That same pledge has underpinned the investing in cutting-edge recycling technology across Australia, technology that protects the environment, boosts the economy and creates jobs.

The RMF was announced in mid-2020 to co-fund recycling projects and infrastructure across the country as the government strives to meet the waste export ban from mid-2024. In 2018-2019, Australia generated 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste, of which only 9% was recycled.

A National Waste Policy Action Plan was launched in 2019 with the agreement of federal, state and territory governments as well as the Australian Association of Local Governments. The plan sets seven waste reduction targets, including an average resource recovery rate of 80% from all types of waste.

Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley said the additional funding will help accelerate advanced recycling infrastructure and manufacturing of recycled plastic products.

“Australia has set the bar high as the first country in the world to ban the export of plastic waste, we will continue to take strong action against plastics in our own backyard by investing in technology, manufacturing and jobs,” Ms. Ley said.

Increased CSIRO funding for the Ending Plastic Waste mission will see research into technologies that change the way recycled plastics are made and used, development of a sustainable plastics circular economy, and improved packaging and systems waste management. The mission is led by Dr. Deborah Lau.

The first co-investment of $12 million will help Perth-based Ecopha Biotech develop a process to manufacture water bottles using compostable bioplastics from food industry waste.

Funding for CSIRO’s mission comes from program partners, including CSIRO, seven universities and the Federal, Victorian and New South Wales governments. CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall said reducing plastic waste requires cooperation between multiple institutions.

“The Ending Plastic Waste Mission will bring together the entire innovation system, government, industry and academia to turn science into solutions that will benefit the environment and create economic opportunity for Australia” , said Dr. Marshall.

“By working together, aligning our efforts and pushing each other further for a common cause, we can tackle seemingly impossible challenges – like protecting our environment while making sustainability profitable for business. And we can get there faster. .

CSIRO estimates that developing the circular economy of plastic waste will add US$67 billion to the global economy by 2025.

Do you know more? Contact James Riley by email.

Bryce K. Locke