Waste management policy should adopt a zero waste goal to conserve natural resources for future generations.
The Australian Greens believe that:
- Waste management is a global challenge, and Australia’s responses must promote global social, economic, and ecological justice.
- Australia should adopt a zero waste goal to conserve natural resources for future generations, avoid the build-up of toxic and noxious substances, conserve water, and achieve deep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution.
- Avoiding, reducing, reusing and recycling waste is integral to effective waste management and to achieving zero waste.
- Waste should be treated as a resource and reused in a way that achieves the maximum social, economic and environmental benefit.
- The full social, health, environmental and economic costs must be assessed when making decisions about the use of materials and the management and disposal of waste.
- Manufacturers, distributors and retailers should be required to adopt product stewardship, taking financial and physical responsibility for a product at the end of its life.
- Hazardous waste creation must be rigorously and independently regulated with a view to eliminating the need for any long term waste storage.
- The transport of hazardous waste must be minimised, and the Australian community must be fully informed about its location, disposal and transportation.
- There should be high standards of transparency and accountability for industry, including the recycling industry.
The Australian Greens want:
- A comprehensive national waste strategy, addressing each stage of the production and consumption cycle, with mandatory targets for the recovery of different categories of waste.
- Australian states and territories to achieve a nationally consistent approach to:
- implementing a national phase out of the use of landfills for the disposal of recyclable materials;
- documenting and monitoring the generation of different waste streams, with a focus on -hazardous materials - with the aim of keeping all stockpiles and newly generated hazardous waste to a minimum;
- phasing out non-recyclable and hazardous materials; and
- working with manufacturers, distributors and importers, as well as local governments, to provide sustainable waste reuse and recycling facilities, including reuse and recycling strategies that meet minimum health, safety and environmental standards; and
- providing incentives for recycling and reusing products.
- Independent verification of the National Pollution Inventory to ensure it comprehensively documents all point source substances released into the environment.
- The active management of greenhouse gas emissions from current and legacy landfill sites.
- The elimination of the incineration of materials which produce toxic emissions.
- The strict enforcement of penalties for illegal dumping, set at levels sufficient to act as a deterrent.
- A national container deposit scheme.
- To prohibit the export of hazardous waste and e-waste unless similar health, safety and environmental standards exist in the importing country.
- The mandatory labelling of electronics and large manufactured goods that clearly indicates that they may not be placed in household waste or municipal landfill streams.
- An evidence-based, national labelling scheme for products that are biodegradable, reusable or recyclable, and for products which are primarily made from recycled materials.
- Landfill levies, with funds raised used to improve waste management and discourage waste disposal to landfill.
- Consumers, governments, retailers, distributors and manufacturers to be encouraged to reduce packaging and offer consumers options for zero packaging.
- Standards for product design which encourage ease of recovery of materials for reuse.
- Support for research, development and commercialisation of advanced waste processing.
- Regulation of production and distribution of goods to ensure high quality, fit for purpose products, eliminating built-in obsolescence and single-use products and promoting cradle-to-grave policies to effect maximum reuse and recycling of resources.
[Policy endorsed: May 2018]