Australia agrees to ban exporting recyclable waste

Custom officers opening a container loaded with a combination of garbage, plastic waste and hazardous materials in Batam, Indonesia. (AFP pic)

SYDNEY: Australia has signalled its commitment to stop exporting recyclable waste amid a pushback by regional neighbours including Indonesia and Malaysia.

State and federal governments agreed at a conference on Friday to draw up a timeline for developing their own recycling capabilities.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said waste management was an “issue of great concern right across the community” and “dear to the hearts” of his state colleagues.

Under the commitment, governments will consult with industry and other stakeholders, according to the meeting’s communique.

China and the Philippines have also recently cracked down on waste imports from countries including Australia.

Indonesia last month said it had found toxic or contaminated materials in containers from Australia, the US, Germany and Hong Kong, and announced it would ramp up inspections.

That’s resulted in waste containers mounting up in ports, disrupting customs clearance under strain from the world’s influx of trash.