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Australia moves to ban waste exports

Christian Fernsby |
Australia will move to establish a timetable to put a ban on waste exports, the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) announced on Friday at its 47th general meeting in Cairns, Queensland state.

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Bringing together the federal government along leaders from all of Australia's states and territories, the meeting's communique vowed to improve the way Australia collects, recycles, reuses, converts and recovers waste.

"Leaders agreed Australia should establish a timetable to ban the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres, while building Australia's capacity to generate high value recycled commodities and associated demand," the communique said.

"They tasked environment ministers to advise on a proposed timetable and response strategy following consultation with industry and other stakeholders," the communique said.

With leaders agreeing that Australia must put in place a future strategy to reduce landfill and maximise the capability of the country's recycling sector, they said the plan should draw on the "best science, research and commercial experience" as well as the country's leading national scientific agencies.

Struggling to come up with a solution after China made the decision to ban imports of 24 types of solid waste, including plastics and paper, the issue of waste management came to a head in Australia last month when a company called SKM Recycling informed 31 local Councils in Melbourne that it could no longer take any more trash due to a surplus of waste.

"I don't think there is a community you'll walk into today or a young child you speak to, who won't tell you about the problem of plastics going through our waterways, ending up in our oceans, or landfill," Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

"People think it's going to be recycled but only about 12 percent of it is," Morrison said.

"This stuff won't change until we set a date where you can't put this stuff on a boat any longer," he added.

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