Reuse boost will reduce landfill waste

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Millions of tonnes of household waste could be diverted from landfill thanks in part to new guidelines aimed at encouraging recycling.

Monash University researchers developed the framework that will provide the first standardised measurement of material being reused in Australia by tracking the amount resold or donated through charities such as Reverse Garbage in the Sydney suburb of Marrickville.

Project leader Matt Allen says that while the guidelines won't directly increase the amount of material being reused, they are an important first step in growing the circular economy in Australia.

"With appropriate investments in the sector we could double the amount of material being reused based on what is happening overseas," he told AAP on Tuesday.

"Reuse is a really important part of the circular economy, but it's one that in Australia we've lagged behind in terms of policy and support.

"These guidelines give us the opportunity to meaningfully capture data on the impacts of reuse and then for governments to directly support to reuse initiatives." 

Mr Allen says the simplest way to boost reuse off the back of the guidelines is for governments to set targets for materials diverted from landfill. 

Governments should set social objectives to ensure the circular economy provides employment and economic opportunities for socially disadvantaged people, he said.

More than one million tonnes of waste - or 39kg per person - is already being diverted by charitable reuse and recycling each year, according to peak body Charitable Recycling Australia.

Chief executive Omer Soker said the guidelines, if adopted and supported by government, would help achieve the organisation's target of reducing waste in Australia by 10 per cent by 2030.

Charitable Recycling Australia says the framework will also provide an opportunity to measure how many jobs the sector creates and allow for better targeted incentives and support for the sector.


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