Australia to phase out waste exports, boost recycling

Australia has finally decided to convert its waste products into energy. (Shutterstock photo)
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Updated 27 August 2020

Australia to phase out waste exports, boost recycling

  • Australia had been shipping 645,000 metric tons of unprocessed rubbish that overseas each year

CANBERRA: The Australian government introduced legislation on Thursday that would phase out exports of waste plastic, paper, glass and tires beginning January next year.

The legislation introduced to Parliament aims to end the export of 645,000 metric tons (711,000 US tons) of unprocessed rubbish that Australia ships overseas each year, usually to Asian ports. Waste glass exports would be banned from Jan. 1, 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 neighbors and with the East Asian Summit and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

“Waste plastic in oceans is destroying communities, it’s destroying their livelihoods, it’s destroying their health,” Morrison said.

FASTFACT

32 %

Australia plans to create 10,000 new jobs in the waste and recycling sector, a 32 percent increase on current staffing levels.

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 190 million Australian dollar ($138 million) recycling modernization fund.

The government also plans to create 10,000 new jobs in the waste and recycling sector, a 32 percent 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.

“This is about tackling a national environmental issue that has been buried in landfill or shipped offshore for far too long,” Environment Minister Sussan Ley said in a statement.

The legislation was welcomed by the Australian Council of Recycling and the Australian Food and Grocery Council.


Fishing rights top Brexit talks agenda

Updated 19 min 42 sec ago

Fishing rights top Brexit talks agenda

  • A no-deal scenario is widely expected to cause economic chaos

LONDON: Last-ditch Brexit trade talks continued in London on Sunday with fishing rights remaining an “outstanding major bone of contention,” according to British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab.

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier told reporters that “work continues, even on a Sunday,” as he arrived for the second day of talks.

Barnier had arrived in London on Friday following a spell in self-isolation after a member of his team contracted coronavirus and ahead of the resumption of talks with British counterpart David Frost on Saturday.

Both men warned that a deal could not be reached without major concessions from the other party.

There are only five weeks to go until the end of the current transition period, during which trade relations have remained largely unchanged.

The two key sticking points remain post-Brexit access to British fishing waters for European vessels and the EU’s demand for trade penalties if either side diverges from common standards or state aid regulations rules.

Raab told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday that this could be the final week of “substantive” talks, with time running out to agree and ratify a deal.

“There’s a deal to be done,” he said.

“On fishing there’s a point of principle: As we leave the EU we’re going to be an independent coastal state and we’ve got to be able to control our waters,” he added.

Barnier told envoys last week that London was asking that European access to UK waters be cut by 80 percent, while the EU was willing to accept 15 to 18 percent, according to a Brussels source.

A British official called the demands “risible,” according to the domestic Press Association, adding that the “EU side knows full well that we would never accept this.”

“There seems to be a failure from the Commission to internalize the scale of change needed as we become an independent nation,” said the source.

However, Raab was cautiously optimistic over the “level playing field” issue, saying “it feels like there is progress toward greater respect” for Britain’s position.

A failure to reach an agreement would see Britain and the EU trading on World Trade Organization terms, with tariffs immediately imposed on goods traveling to and from the continent.

As it stands, Britain will leave Europe’s trade and customs area on Dec. 31, with no prospect of an extension.

A no-deal scenario is widely expected to cause economic chaos, with customs checks required at borders.

Concern is particularly acute on the border between EU member Ireland and the British province of Northern Ireland, where the sudden imposition of a hard border threatens the delicate peace secured by 1999’s Good Friday Agreement.

The talks have already dragged on much longer than expected and time is running out for ratification of any deal by the European Parliament by the end of the year.