Region/Countries: Australia, Australia and New Zealand Industry: Other Date: January 2019

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: With the country no longer able to export waste to China, opportunities abound for companies offering solutions.

Australia has increased its waste generation by 6% over the last 11 years, to an estimated total of 67 million metric tons a year 2016-17. Although this is just a modest increase, it occurred during a period focused on increased recycling and waste reduction priorities. A significant portion of Australia’s recyclable material was exported to China in the past, but China has stopped importing waste material for recycling, leading Australia into a “Waste Crisis.”

This situation led to a 2018 National Waste Policy that aimed to deliver a common approach and regulation across Australia’s states and territories. One reason this was implemented was to make it easier and more cost effective for industry to engage with government Australia-wide.

The need to deliver improvements across the recycling and the waste-to-energy processes in Australia has led to an increase in government spending. In 2018, there were a range of short-term funding boosts in the sector, such as the Victorian Government spending $17.1 million ($24 million Australian) on top of an initial $9.3 million ($13 million Australian) boost for local councils. Other state governments are providing funding to boost the private sector and allow for new entrants to the recycling industry. Examples include:

At the federal level there have been calls for significant financial investment, predominantly through the Clean Energy Finance Corp., which is responsible for investing $7.1 billion ($10 billion Australian)) in clean energy projects on behalf of the Australian government. Examples of their investments include:

  • $64.3 million ($90 million Australian) toward Australia’s first large-scale energy-from-waste project at Kwinana in Western Australia;
  • $21 million ($30 million Australian) to Visy Industries for projects that will increase Visy’s manufacturing capacity to recycle waste materials by 10%;
  • $27 million ($38 million Australian) to Melbourne’s South Eastern Organics Processing Facility to convert 120,000 metric tons of curbside green and food waste materials into high-grade compost, substantially reducing landfill and emissions; and
  • $7 million ($10 million Australian) to Landfill Gas Industries to expand bioenergy at landfill sites in central and southern Queensland.

Wisconsin companies with expertise in the waste and waste-to-energy industries are encouraged to look at Australia as an export market. There is currently a demand for new market entrants, and government funding is available for significant infrastructure investment, along with a range of resources to assist companies with technology or expertise in this sector.