NSW has moved to increase recycling after china's ban on waste imports

A woman works in a waste recycle station in Huaibei, Anhui province, east China. Jie Zhao/Corbis via Getty Images
  • NSW is kicking in $9.5 million for better waste recycling projects to counter the impact of China’s ban on recyclable waste.
  • A new grant provides $4.5 million for projects that reduce the amount of unrecyclable material left at the end of the recycling process.
  • Another $5 million is available to identify new uses for recyclable materials.

NSW has moved to rescue the kerbside yellow bin and its recyclable waste.

The state government is kicking in $9.5 million for better waste recycling projects to counter the effects of China’s ban on imports of recyclable waste.

State Environment Minister Gabrielle Upton says China’s enforcement of its National Sword policy restricts the types of recycled material the country will accept.

“As China is the largest importer of recyclable products from Australia, this policy threatens NSW’s kerbside recycling system and the options for recycled material currently produced in NSW,” the minister says.

Local councils should team up with industry to seek funding to improve and strengthen recycling in NSW, says Upton.

A new grant, called the Product Improvement Program, provides $4.5 million for projects that reduce the amount of unrecyclable material left at the end of the recycling process.

Another $5 million is available for programs to identify new uses for recyclable materials and increase the production and use of recycled products.

This includes $2.5 million under the Civil Construction Market Program and $2.5 million under the Circulate Program.

Australian councils have been under growing pressure to put up rates to cover the increased costs of kerbside pickup of recycled waste following an importation ban by China.

Last year China created what it called the National Sword program to stop smuggling of foreign waste. China now says this flow of waste has seriously polluted its environment. It wants local industry to deal with its own waste rather than process the world’s.

Australia produces about 64 million tonnes of waste, or about 2.7 tonnes per person, according to government estimates for 2014-15. About 60% of that is recycled in some form.

In Victoria, lobbying by local councils produced a $13 million package from the state government to support kerbside collection of household recyclable waste, giving councils and contractors time to develop longer-term solutions, including renegotiating contracts.

The urgency isn’t as great in the rest of Australia but the new financial year from next month will see pressure from contractors to be paid more for removing recyclable waste.

Before the China ban, many councils were paid a fee by recyclers for each tonne of household recycling. This fee was often used to offset collection costs. The material was then sold to China, where the waste was processed, at a higher price.

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