Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts Waste Technology and Innovation Study

Examination of current and potential funding options for waste management solutions involving technology and innovation

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Examination of current and potential funding options for waste management solutions involving technology and innovation

Different funding models of alternative waste technology plants by private organisations (e.g build, own, operate) and private - government partnerships (e.g build, own, operate, transfer) are reviewed. Research of alternative (more recent) funding models is undertaken.

The funding of technology and innovation needs to be examined based on the cost benefit of solutions implementation. The financing of waste management improvements is discussed case-by-case, however opportunities for funding will be researched and presented, particularly those linking to domestic and international priorities such as climate change.

For example, currently, the proposed national Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) is expected to shift the economics of production and consumption in a pattern that favours products and services that are less carbon and energy intensive than others. While some elements of the waste and resource recovery sector will benefit indirectly from this, in terms of competing with virgin resource prices, others such as landfill operators will not, and this will reduce their willingness to innovate.

The CPRS does not offer a perfect solution to the internalisation of carbon in the economy and there may be an opportunity to supplement the national scheme as has occurred overseas for some aspects of waste management. For example, carbon sequestration in soil is not rewarded by the CPRS for numerous reasons. Also, recycling and resource recovery services are not directly rewarded and there is no incentive to the ‘recyclers’, hence the market instrument provided by the CPRS in this case is not targeting the influential party. There may be an opportunity to present a case for a supplementary fund for these activities with the weight of arguments that could cost effectively assist the achievement of carbon abatement targets.

Waste levies have made waste disposal to landfill expensive in Sydney, which has provided significant commercial drivers for introduction of new waste technologies, however the approach in most other states and territories has been adopting the ‘lowest cost to meet regulations’ approach to waste disposal. In the absence of a Life Cycle Approach, landfilling is the most cost effective approach to meeting sanitary objectives associated with waste disposal.

Therefore there is an urgent need to provide some means of funding the implementation of new technologies to overcome these commercial and financial barriers. This could possibly come through infrastructure grants linked to environmental performance outcomes.

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