Trevor Evans: Recycling onshore, pipe dream or reality?

In his role as Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans has the power to create real impact when it comes to waste in Australia. He is on the presuppose of innovation and change overseeing Product Stewardship and bringing Australia’s recycling back onshore. He also provides some encouraging insights into the future of sustainability in Australia from a policy makers perspective, explaining how too often in the past environmental progress needs to be measured by economic loss. Trevor believes that it is possible for Australia to bring about more sustainable environmental outcomes while simultaneously growing our economy. 

Trevor speaks about shifting public opinions on what waste in Australia is and can be, changing people’s mindset from seeing rubbish and waste management as simply the disposal of a liability to seeing waste as a valuable resource, one that can be used again and again. He believes that this change of public ideas will bring about a more circular Australian economy. Something we all need and want.

 

There are however many potential challenges that comes with this. When you take into account that variety of packaging materials used by businesses and the different variations in supply chain management there is a lot to consider. Yet, Trevor goes onto explain that if government can create a “policy ecosystem” where policy and laws incentivise businesses and people to recognise the value of the resources in their products and its packaging and to innovate and find more sustainable solutions, this will bring about the change we need.

In light of the recent ban of waste exporting in 2019 recycling in Australia has been brought back on shore, this is extremely exciting but has also brought about immense challenges that Mr Evans and other policy makers must navigate. There is a feeling amongst policy makers that technological development is the key. Innovations in waste separation and sorting especially will allow for waste to be treated as more of a commodity than a liability.

 

When recycling is sorted manually by the public mistakes can be made that contaminate the recycling process. Automated sorting will alleviate this problem and make waste materials like plastic and aluminium a fully tradable commodity on the open market. This financial incentive and opportunity for businesses will help Australia tackle this immense problem of onshore recycling, Mr Evans believes.

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