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Government sets timeline to ban export of recyclable waste from Australia

CANBERRA, Australia: The Australian government has decided to ban the export of recyclable waste, phasing out the expensive and controversial practice starting in July next year.

The federal, state and territory environment ministers devised a timeline on Friday to stop sending plastic, paper, glass and tires internationally for recycling.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison flagged the ban after the last Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in August, and yesterday’s agreement has permitted the process to allow jurisdictions time to adjust.

“Ministers will further test the timetable with industry and local government, while also developing response strategies and undertaking independent market analysis,” the agreement reads.

Only 12% of the rubbish put in recycling bins is processed in the country while the remainder is shipped to other countries at a high cost.

In 2018, China banned the import of Australian waste and Indonesia sent back shipments contaminated with unrecyclable waste, including soiled nappies and food.

According to the latest agreement, glass waste will be banned for export by July 2020, and the mixed waste plastics and all while tires by 2021.

Mixed paper and cardboard waste will be banned for export from June 30, 2022, onwards.

“This timetable reflects the unique challenges of each jurisdiction, and the preparedness of some jurisdictions to complete the phase-out ahead of schedule,” the agreement further states.

“All jurisdictions acknowledged resourcing, from Commonwealth, states and territories, and industry will be required to effectively implement the ban.”

The government has planned to reduce waste under the ambitious new National Waste Action Plan, which aims to make Australia the world leader in waste management and recycling.

The administration intends to ensure an 80% recovery rate of material across all waste streams.