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:
- South Australia’s $8.6 million ($12.4 million Australian) support package for the recycling industry;
- New South Wales’ Waste Less, Recycle More initiative with $239 million ($337 million Australian) in funding over four years; and
- Queensland’s $71 million ($100 million Australian) funding program for waste and recycling.
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.