Retailers welcome government commitments to drastically reduce plastics

Australia’s peak retail body,  the  Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has  welcomed  announcements this week by the Federal government around investment and research to solve single use plastics challenges, but renewed calls for national consistency around phasing out plastic packaging to help all parties accelerate the change.
The announcements include:
  • Federal Government’s boosted Recycling Modernisation Fund with a $60 million new funding stream targeted at advanced plastic recycling technology that will tackle hard to recycle plastics. 
  • CSIRO – An initial $50M investment in CSIRO’s Ending Plastic Waste Mission funded through contributions by CSIRO, industry, government, university, and other organisations to develop cutting-edge science and innovation to change the way Australia makes, uses, recycles and disposes of plastics.
ARA CEO Paul Zahra said sustainability challenges, including plastics and packaging, are top of the priority list for the retail sector, as the next great business disruptor. 
“In our pre-budget submission, we called for an expansion to the Recycling Modernisation Fund to make it easier for business and consumers to support the transition to a more circular economy, and so we warmly welcome these announcements. The funding and focus being directed towards collaborative sustainability efforts between governments and industry are fantastic to see, and we are keen to see this increase significantly.
“Within the soft plastics area, the newly announced initiatives will help provide retailers with more options to embrace the circular economy, improve recycling rates and reduce the amount of waste sent to landfill. 
“However, the efficiency, cost and speed of the schemes would be strongly enhanced by national consistency. Currently each state and territory are going it alone on their timeframes and approach, which just makes its harder and more costly to implement these important changes.
“While we expect that all levels of government will continue to invest heavily in waste and recycling infrastructure in coming years, many of our largest members have already implemented measures to become more sustainable. This means that the retail sector is well placed to be a strong partner to help government meet its objectives. 
“The announcements over the past week help to create the market conditions they need to achieve their ambitious targets for the future,” Mr Zahra said.
The ARA also acknowledges the positive role that Federal Environment Minister Sussan Ley played in moving to a global treaty to address plastic pollution, earlier in March 2022.
“Whilst there is a long way to go within the sustainability area, strong, aligned global intent coupled with government investment and business commitment means we are moving in the right direction.
“The ARA has recently launched its Net-zero Roadmap for the Australian retail sector and we look forward to continuing to work with government to promote initiatives to accelerate our transition to the low-carbon, circular economy of the future.,” said Mr Zahra.