Parties running in the federal election urgently need to respond to Australia’s “internationally embarrassing” recycling rate, according to a new report from the Australian Council of Recycling.

The peak body’s Australia is Losing the Recycling Race report finds that Australia ranks 13th in the world for recycling rates, with recycled and composted waste comprising 41 per cent of total municipal waste, compared with 65 per cent for leader Germany, and behind countries like South Korea, Sweden, the UK and Denmark.

ACOR chief executive Grant Musgrove said it was not good enough.

“Australia is losing the recycling race,” he said. “This is despite being one of the richest countries in the world and having with one of the worst rates of waste generation.

“Logically, we should have one of the highest recycling rates in the world.”

He said there had been no mention of waste or recycling in the federal campaign.

“We have an extraordinary disconnect between community expectations and government action. The community supports recycling, but our national government is failing to take positive actions.”

The report calls for the government to recommit to the National Waste Strategy, which has previously been agreed upon by state and federal governments; the reinstatement of green procurement policies abandoned by the federal government in 2014; enforcement of anti-dumping regulations against China; and improved recycling schemes for televisions and computers, tyres, batteries and fluorescent lights.

The report said there were many benefits to improving recycling rates, including:

  • Reducing the amount of waste sent to landfills, which conserves natural resources such as timber, water and minerals
  • Preventing pollution by reducing the need to collect new raw materials
  • Saving energy
  • Reducing greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global climate change
  • Helping sustain the environment for future generations
  • Helping create new well-paying jobs in the recycling and remanufacturing industries

Join the Conversation


Your email address will not be published.

  1. I would like to know much more about what becomes of the materials I put out for recycling by Darebin and other Melbourne metropolitan councils. I try to find information on the Internet. There seems very little.
    I’d also like to know much more about how the better performing countries are achieving their aims.
    Even with reducing and reusing first, I still have material that could be recycled. But I cannot find out what happens to it, how much it costs the council/s, and / or whether it is profitable. And if not, why not?

  2. Hi
    This article caught my attention as my husband leads a major recycling project in our Capital Territory for the ACT Government. He is a transformation contractor who was head hunted, a year ago, to lead the most ambitious recycling program in Australia and get the ACT to 90%+ recycling as quickly as possible (They are on 70%).
    I often hear him say that there is limited or no Federal drive in this area and how they had to develop everything from scratch.
    They are creating some great firsts – with a real program that will be the leading light in Australia and hopefully drive national success so we can be proud of our recycling. Vic