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The opportunity

Closing the loop on our resource use through recycling and re-use is an essential step towards a circular economy, and the good news is that these industries are jobs-rich and can be developed right here in WA.

Currently, WA lacks the recycling infrastructure to process many recyclable waste products including, plastics, glass and other common materials. This means our recycling rates remain low and what recycling does take place has to be shipped to other parts of the country or overseas. The carbon footprint of this transport is significant, and we cannot continue to rely on these markets when countries like China are restricting the importation of waste for recycling. By developing our local recycling industries, we can dramatically reduce carbon emissions and at the same time create jobs and business opportunities right here in WA.

Construction and Demolition (C&D) waste account for almost half of WA’s total waste stream but has the lowest recovery rate. From a climate perspective, steel and concrete production is a significant contributor to global emissions. Here in WA, quarrying of raw materials such as limestone, sand and rock are causing significant environmental damage; however recycled C&D waste can be substituted for virgin raw materials in many situations.

Outside the Perth metropolitan region, limited access to markets for recycled products and relatively cheap disposal costs continue to restrict opportunities to increase waste recovery. Improving landfill diversion rates and increasing re-use and recycling for this waste stream must be a high priority for the state government.

The proposal

1. Recycle all our E-waste here in WA

63% of e-waste in Australia is ending up in landfill, losing valuable minerals like steel, plastic, non-ferrous metals and gold & silver.

Australians are amongst the highest users and disposers of technology in the world, generating 465,818, tonnes of e-waste in 2016.157 In 2016 every Australian generated almost 24kg of e-waste per person.

It’s estimated For every 10,000 tonnes of e-waste recycled locally, at least 50 direct jobs are created, compared to only 2.8 jobs per landfill, and almost
5 times as many jobs as other waste streams due to the complex and intricate nature of e-waste recycling.

WA generates about 73kg of e-waste per person, or roughly 198,000 tonnes per year. Recycling this volume of e-waste could create up to 1000 full time jobs, and a number of additional jobs in downstream industries to refine and utilise all of
the materials.

2. Recycled roads and infrastructure from construction and demolition waste

Construction and demolition (‘C&D’) waste is our largest single waste stream and accounts for over 4 million tonnes of waste every year. WA’s recovery rates in this area have improved over recent years and we now recover about 70% of this amount.160 This means about 1 million tonnes of materials are still sent to landfill – materials that can be used for roads, footpaths and cycle paths each year.

Using recycled materials for road base will also prevent the need for further limestone quarrying and mining expansions in our South West regions, such as Binningup and Myalup.

Markets for recycled C&D products need further support to develop. The McGowan Government’s Roads to Reuse pilot program commits to using
25,000 tonnes of recycled C&D waste as road base and also includes a target of 30% recycled material
in road base. Better handling at tip sites to ensure asbestos is not mixed is vital.

There is the potential to drive even greater recycled content if this program were extended to include soft plastics and glass which cannot be recycled into other higher value products.

Concrete production is a significant contributor to global emissions and resource recovery from the C&D stream to replace the raw materials in concrete use is an important opportunity to reduce this source of pollution.

With the right policies in place, State Government agencies with responsibility for infrastructure development including Main Roads, Water Corporation and Development WA can create a huge market driver to support increased recycling of C&D waste.

3. Resurrect Local Repair Labs

A few decades ago, then State Energy Corporation (SEC) resourced ‘Safety Watch-it Vans” at metropolitan shopping centres where people could bring electrical appliances to be tested for safety and repaired.

More recently, some local governments and independent collectives have established Repair Labs, which are community initiatives to help people fix their belongings and prevent materials going to landfill. The Wembley Repair Lab, supported by the Town of Cambridge, is a free family friendly community event where skilled volunteers help with repairs to clothing, bikes, furniture, jewellery and battery-run electronics. Some regional local government Authorities have partnered with local community groups to develop ‘tip shops’ (Such as the highly successful Denmark Tip Shop) where discarded items are salvaged and sold or recycled. These Clean State proposes a program of support to resurrect local repair labs in communities across the state, with a focus on diverting household electrical appliances from landfill, through a widely available, free or low-cost repair service.


The ‘local repair labs’ would charge a small fee for parts, and be located at accessible locations such as shopping centres or other high-visitation areas. The Repair Labs could be co-located with container deposit collection facilities, utilising existing buildings or constructed from materials diverted from landfill. Clean State proposes a trial of 30 labs located in metropolitan and regional hubs.

Local Repair Labs

Local repair labs could be an important part of our communities. Rather than household items being thrown away, they can be repaired or repurposed. A program of local repair labs across the state would reduce waste, create jobs, and connect people back in with their local communities.

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How to make this happen

How to make this happen

  1. Ban E-waste from landfill and follow the steps South Australia, the ACT and Victoria have taken to establish a dedicated e-waste recycling facility.
  2. Ensure government agencies utilise local E-waste recycling options when disposing of E-Waste, creating an instant market demand for local E-waste recycling.
  3. Mandate the use of recycled materials in road base by Main Roads Department and Local Government to deliver roads that are stronger, longer lasting and cost competitive with traditional products.
  4. Mandate recycled content for infrastructure projects establishing government as major customers to drive demand for this product.
  5. Require material collected through the WA Recycling Refund Scheme to be reprocessed here in Western Australia and expand the Recycling Refund scheme to include a broader range of recyclable packaging.
  6. Provide tax incentives for WA businesses involved
    in recycling or reprocessing industries
  7. Withhold further approvals for quarry developments or expansions where alternative materials can be sourced from recycled and reprocessed C&D waste products.
  8. Develop Extended Producer Responsibility and Product Stewardship schemes under the WA Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery Act for problem waste products.
  9. Provide funding for 30 Local Repair Labs across Perth and in regional areas, and explore linking training and employment opportunities to social reinvestment programs.
  10. Provide dedicated funding from the WA Waste Avoidance and Resource Recovery fund for local community groups to clean up litter, illegal dumping, and plastic pollution in rivers, streams, coastlines and bushland areas.
  11. Increase the WA Landfill Levy and phase it in to cover regional areas at a lower level.

Precious Plastic Margaret River

Precious Plastic Margaret River’s mission is to address the global plastic pollution crisis through local, grass roots initiatives.

Precious Plastic Margaret River was founded in December 2018 by Narelle and Stijn Kuppers. The project is intended to operate as a social enterprise, meaning an organisation which applies commercial strategies to maximize improvements in social and environmental well-being. The PPMR project is based on the ideas of the Precious Plastic Community, a global community which operates under an open source licence, started by Dave Hakkens in 2013.

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