Australia eyes national approach to waste

Environment ministers from across Australia have agreed to develop a national policy to deal with the country's growing mountains of waste.

State and federal ministers made the decision as they met in Adelaide, in South Australia

The amount of rubbish produced in the country has shot up by 28% between 2003 and 2007, highlighting the need for action to reduce waste.

“What this shows is that current initiatives on waste at community, industry and government levels, while commendable, need to be looked at in a comprehensive way to ensure we’ve got the right measures in place,” Environment Minister Peter Garrett said.

“In short ministers have today agreed that we need to stop trying to pick waste items off the list one by one and assess this in a holistic way.”

He accused previous Commonwealth governments of failing to take the opportunity to develop a national strategy for waste.

The agreement came as state and federal environment ministers held a top-level meeting in Adelaide, in South Australia.

Ministers hope the national waste policy will clarify what is appropriately dealt with at which level of government, and allow waste to be looked at in the context of recent Government strategies on climate change and sustainability.

The Waste Management Association of Australia said its members would probably welcome a national waste strategy.

A spokesperson told edie: “We have not canvassed this issue with our members but I think it is safe to assume that most would agree a national waste strategy would be a good thing as having different targets, policies and legislation in each state makes it difficult for the industry to work.”

Details of the process for drawing up the waste strategy are expected to be revealed in the coming weeks.

Kate Martin

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