$3 million to help Australians recycle better

8 April 2022

Australians will be able to create new items out of what has traditionally been unrecyclable rubbish following the announcement of three new grants targeting motor vehicles, commercial furniture and resilient floor coverings.

Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Trevor Evans said that the government will provide $1 million to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) to ensure that more components of Australia’s waste vehicles can be recycled.

“Over 700,000 Australian vehicles reach their end of life every year and when this happens, the metal components are recycled. However, hundreds of thousands of tonnes of other valuable materials— such as textiles, plastics, and electronic components— that should be recycled, are sent to landfill,” Assistant Minister Evans said. 

“FCAI will partner with the Motor Trades Association of Australia to lead the whole vehicle supply chain in finding ways to take this waste and recycle it.  The result will be a comprehensive, evidence-based road map to implement a national recycling scheme by the end of 2023.

Chief Executive of the FCAI Tony Weber said this project brings together two of the nation’s peak automotive organisations to improve sustainability across the complex automotive supply chain.

“This consists of tens of thousands of moving parts, just like the vehicles that keep Australians mobile, connected and independent,” Mr Weber said.

A further $1 million in support will be provided to the Australasian Furnishings Association (AFA) to design out waste in commercial furniture.

“By going back to first principles and getting design right we can make it easier for the materials in the 30,000 tonnes of commercial furniture waste created every year in Australia to be separated out and recycled,” Assistant Minister Evans said. 

“Getting design right also means not including harmful chemicals in the production process. AFA will lead actions to reduce the use of these chemicals, assisted by research and industry engagement they undertook in 2021 with Australian Government support.

“We can also increase the furniture’s useful life, make it easier to repair and maximise the use of environmentally friendly and recycled inputs.

“While most of our commercial furniture is manufactured overseas, often the designs are Australian. If we get the design right, we can significantly reduce the 95 per cent of commercial furniture which currently ends up in landfill. This will improve the sustainability of offshore manufacturing and improve stewardship outcomes for these products”, Assistant Minister Evans said.

Chief Executive of the AFA Patrizia Torelli said this project will bring together market leaders and innovators across the furniture design, supply, retail, and manufacturing sectors to improve the design of commercial furniture, building Australia’s circular economy.

Assistant Minister Evans said a further $1 million grant to the Australian Resilient Flooring Association (ARFA) will be used to develop a national plan to divert used floor coverings such as those made from vinyl, linoleum and rubber from landfill and process them into valuable new products.

“Resilient floor coverings are used across commercial, medical and residential settings and are made from materials that have some elasticity and that give the product a degree of flexibility or cushioning”, Assistant Minister Evans said.

“Australia sells around 10 million square metres of these products every year and they include vinyl planks made to mimic wood flooring and vinyl sheets used in medical settings.

“The waste export ban has encouraged industry to take greater responsibility for their products meaning end of life flooring will be reprocessed into new products or commodities before being exported.

“We must find a solution that allows us to recycle and remanufacture these valuable materials in Australia and to keep them out of landfill,” Assistant Minister Evans said.

Dan Lovell, President of ARFA said, “As the peak association, we are excited to be actively building an industry-led stewardship solution. End of life solutions through product stewardship that engage stakeholders across supply chains, installation businesses and waste management, will not only address the landfill impact but create a circularity mindset that will be welcomed across the market place.

“This funding opportunity provides ARFA with the impetus to establish a national recycling scheme for resilient flooring products and drive future innovation, jobs and growth for our industry.”

All three investments were made through the National Product Stewardship Investment Fund. To date the fund has supported the development or expansion of 24 product stewardship schemes.

For further information see https://www.awe.gov.au/environment/protection/waste/product-stewardship/national-product-stewardship-investment-fund