Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced during a press release on August 9, 2019, that the country aims to stop exports of domestic recyclable waste. “There will be no export of plastics and paper and glass to other countries where it runs the risk of floating around in our oceans,” he said. “There’s going to be a point in time where you’re not going to be able to put this stuff in a ship and send it off to someone else. We’ve got to start thinking about what we do when that happens. I would like that date to be as soon as is practicable.” The announcement describes an agreement reached within the Coalition of Australian Governments (COAG) on the issue, as reported by The Guardian. Following China’s refusal to continue to accept recyclable waste beginning January 2018 (FPF reported), Australia is described as having struggled to domestically manage its own recycling programs. With only 12% of materials reported to currently be properly recycled in Australia, the government is said to be considering various options to improve its management of the waste. This includes processing it into packaging, furniture, railway sleepers, and road surfaces. Waste to energy plants as well as strategies to promote change in consumer behavior are also being discussed.

Australia’s aspiration to handle its own waste is being seen in contrast to the approach being taken by authorities in the U.S. that recently petitioned against waste export restrictions (FPF reported). Calls within the U.S. have also been strong to upgrade its own recycling infrastructure to be able to handle the domestic waste it generates (FPF reported).

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Australian Associated Press (August 9, 2019). “Australia will ban export of recyclable waste ‘as soon as practicable’, PM vows.” The Guardian

Rina Li (August 16, 2019). “Scrap Collector: Australia’s recyclable export ban creates domestic opportunities — including incineration.” Waste Dive