The NSW Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy 2041: Stage 1 – 2021-2027 outlines the actions we will take over the next six years, the first phase of the strategy. These following frequently asked questions provides more information about the strategy.
What is the Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy 2041?
The NSW Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy 2041: Stage 1 – 2021-2027 aims to reduce waste and change how the NSW economy produces, consumes and recycles products and materials. It sets out a vision for transitioning to a circular economy over the next 20 years and gives the actions we will take over the next six years to deliver on our long-term objectives.
The strategy includes actions across three focus areas:
- meeting our future infrastructure and service needs
- reducing carbon emissions through better waste and materials management
- building on our work to protect the environment and human health from waste pollution.
What challenges will the strategy address?
Over the next 20 years, NSW waste volumes are forecast to grow from 21 million tonnes to nearly 37 million tonnes. Without action now, and without sustained action over the next two decades, we will have more waste than we can safely manage. Our environment and community will be at risk.
We are running out of space to deal with residual waste and recycling is facing challenges. Since 2018, demand for recycled materials has steadily contracted with the closure of export markets. This has resulted in an oversupply of recycled materials and a decline in their value, particularly for poorly sorted or hard-to-recycle paper and plastic. This has led to increased recycling costs for households and businesses.
Since the release of the previous waste strategy in 2014, we have grown our understanding of how the lifecycle of products and materials affects climate change. Emissions from organic waste decomposing in landfill make up more than 2% of total net annual emissions in NSW. It is estimated nearly half of global emissions arise from use and management of materials and products.
We have also seen how plastic is increasingly threatening our natural environment. Hundreds of millions of plastic items are littered each year, polluting our neighbourhoods, bushland and beaches and harming our wildlife.
These emerging challenges have informed our new strategic directions, ensuring we have the right actions in place to meet our current challenges and future needs.
What is the circular economy and why is it important?
A circular economy is all about valuing our resources by getting as much use out of products and materials as possible and reducing the amount of waste we generate.
A circular economy approach changes the way we produce, assemble, sell and use products to minimise waste and to reduce our environmental impact. The circular economy can also be great for business. It can help business maximise the use of valuable resources and can contribute to innovation, growth and job creation.
Is the NSW Plastics Action Plan part of the strategy?
The NSW Plastics Action Plan forms a key part of the strategy focusing on the management of plastic from production and consumption to disposal and recycling. The Plastics Action Plan sets out clear actions that not only deal with downstream activities like recycling and litter prevention, but also focus attention on the points of production and supply, stopping plastic waste before it becomes a problem.
What are the new opportunities under the strategy?
The NSW Government will invest $356 million over 5 years, with funding commencing from July 2022. The government is providing a further $85 million over the 2021–22 financial year to continue key waste and resource recovery activities and support councils to deliver waste services, tackle illegal dumping and develop regional waste strategies.
New funding commitments under the strategy include:
- a $37 million Carbon Recycling and Abatement Fund to support innovative circular economy approaches that manage waste and materials more efficiently and reduce emissions
- a $16 million investment in a new joint procurement facilitation service to make it easier for local government to collectively procure waste services
- $24 million to catalyse investment in strategic waste and circular economy infrastructure
- $65 million to support the rollout of new organics collection services and a further $4 million for food donation infrastructure and equipment
- $13 million to support research into new technologies and uses for recycled material and to provide opportunities to pilot them in government projects through the new Circular Innovation Fund
- $15.6 million in funding for local government collaboration through regional organisations of councils, council groups, joint organisations and voluntary regional waste groups
- more than $10 million for local councils to continue litter reduction and illegal dumping prevention activities
- continued funding of $6 million for the Landfill Consolidation and Environmental Improvements Grants Program to support regional councils, and $7.5 million to support the installation of landfill gas capture infrastructure
- $66 million for continued support of community recycling centres and household chemical clean out events
- $16 million to continue work in combating illegal dumping and $5 million for continuation of the NSW Asbestos Coordination Committee
- $5 million in ongoing support for the planning and delivery of waste management projects working in partnership with Aboriginal communities across NSW
- $15 million to continue the Bin Trim program, which assists small and medium businesses to reduce and recycle waste
- $38 million for litter prevention programs to protect our environment and waterways.