The NSW Government has announced a one-off package of up to $47 million to help local government and industry to respond to China’s National Sword policy.
The announcement came from Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton, who said: “NSW has a strong kerbside recycling system and the Government, councils and recycling industry are committed to working together to ensure it continues. I have met with industry and government stakeholders to hear first-hand about how we can address the current global challenges to the recycling market in NSW.”
China’s National Sword policy restricts the types of recycled material the country will accept. A particular bone of contention has been the high levels of contamination in recycled material. As China is the largest importer of recyclable products from Australia the policy has thrown NSW’s kerbside recycling system into chaos.
The funding, under the “Waste Less, Recycle More” initiative will help councils to offset some extra costs associated with kerbside recycling collections, improve council tendering processes to increase the production and use of recycled products, and fund community education initiatives to reduce kerbside recycling contamination
The package also includes $9.5 million for industry and local government to co-invest in infrastructure projects to identify new uses for recyclable materials and to improve the quality of recycled products and reduce the amount of unrecyclable material left at the end of the process.
In the short term, recycling facilities can apply to the Environment Protection Authority to temporarily vary their stockpile limits. The facilities will be assessed to demonstrate that appropriate safety measures will remain in place.
“The short-term need for increased stockpiles of recycled material during this critical time must be balanced with the safety of the community and the environment,” Minister Upton said.
An inter-government taskforce is also being established to urgently progress a longer-term response to National Sword in partnership with industry and councils.
“I have also written to the Federal Environment Minister to urgently progress the work on this issue and the long-term solutions at a national level,” said Minister Upton.