COAG’s Standing Council on Environment and Water (SCEW) has previously recognised the strong support from industry, the community and local governments for further action to address the environmental impacts of packaging waste and litter.
The National Waste Policy is supposed to be a coherent, efficient and environmentally responsible approach to waste management in Australia.
The policy, agreed by all Australian environment ministers in November 2009, sets the ambitions for Australia's waste management and resource recovery direction to 2020.
A stock-take of waste-related standards, specifications and guidelines published in January 2013, found more than 200 current Australian waste-related standards, specifications and guidelines.
There are significant differences in approaches across different jurisdictions and markets. Particularly since Qld does not have a waste levee, whilst NSW and VIC do. The review identifies ten areas that could benefit from further action:
a) Waste compositional auditing
b) Standards and specifications for the use of recycled materials
c) Domestic recycling standards
d) Recycler data collection and disclosure
e) Energy from waste facilities and refuse derived fuels
g) Consultation, communications and education
h) Transfer stations
i) Greenhouse gas emissions
j) Data collection and reporting.
The stock-take supports work under the National Waste Policy: Less Waste, More Resources, specifically Strategy 5 which aims to 'facilitate the development of a suite of agreed national principles, specifications, best practice guidelines and standards, to remove impediments to the development and operation of effective markets for potential wastes.'
On the 11 April 2013, the SCEW considered a progress report on the development of a Decision Regulation Impact Statement and noted the progress that has been achieved to date, particularly the focus on consultation with key stakeholders on the options. Ministers requested that work on the Statement and its modelling be completed as soon as possible to enable a facts-based approach on this issue.
SCEW agreed on the need to include end-of-life handheld batteries and waste paint on the SCEW’s work plan. More than 264 million handheld batteries reach the end of their useful life each year and the equivalent of 18,000 tonnes of paint require disposal each year. There could be significant environmental and community benefits to be gained from working with industry to find better management solutions for these products.