Designing out waste and pollution, and achieving a circular economy, are key priorities for Australia’s environment ministers.
At a meeting of all state and territory environment ministers last Friday, chaired by Federal Minister for Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek, three key commitments were made to tackle the nation’s environmental issues and recovery.
These include working to achieve a national target to protect and conserve 30 per cent of Australia’s landmass and 30 per cent of Australia’s marine areas by 2030; noting the Federal Government’s intention to establish a national nature repair market; and working with the private sector to design out waste and pollution, keep materials in use and foster markets to achieve a circular economy by 2030.
On the matter of waste, Minister Plibersek said the ministers had committed to “reducing problematic plastic, developing environmentally friendly plastic alternatives,” as well as “making recycling easier for families and businesses.”
The ministers acknowledged the progress made under the National Waste Policy Action Plan, but noted that more must be done to prevent waste, including through better product design and more efficient production processes.
Ministers noted the Federal Government’s intention to develop a regulatory product stewardship scheme for solar panels and household electronics.
They agreed to develop nationally harmonised definitions to support the phase out of problematic single-use plastic, and to reform the regulation of packaging by 2025 to ensure that all packaging available in Australia is designed to be recovered, reused, recycled, and reprocessed safely in line with circular economy principles.
Additionally, ministers agreed that the Federal Government would add end-of-life tyres to the Minister’s Product Stewardship Priority List, and to work with jurisdictions to phase out the use of harmful chemicals in food packaging.
Chris Foley, Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) Chief Executive Officer, applauded the commitment to tackling problem plastics and packaging.
“This show of support is critical to fostering and deepening collaboration both across the packaging value chain and between industry and government, and is absolutely vital to achieving Australia’s sustainable packaging goals,” he said.
“Similarly, we are pleased to see the commitment to work with jurisdictions to phase out the use of harmful chemicals in food packaging, which supports our recently released PFAS Action Plan.
“We look forward to partnering closely with government to design and create a strong and effective framework to expedite Australia’s progress towards a true circular economy for packaging.”
To view the Agreed Communique from the environment ministers’ meeting, visit: www.dcceew.gov.au
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