SCOTT MORRISON NATIONAL PLASTICS SUMMIT
Federal government departments will have to consider environmental sustainability and use of recycled materials as part the coalition's war on waste.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced changes to procurement rules on Monday at a one-day national plastics summit in Canberra.
"We've used Commonwealth procurement policy to energise our indigenous businesses and we've had tremendous success," he told the summit.
New procurement guidelines mean all agencies will have to consider use of recycled content and sustainability as a factor in determining value for money.
Mr Morrison said the government's strategy to tackle plastic waste started with taking responsibility to stop choking oceans.
He flagged a meeting in two weeks with state and territory leaders to finalise a ban on the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres.
The prime minister also foreshadowed an announcement in May's budget about improving Australia's recycling and collection systems.
"The Commonwealth stands ready to work with the states to co-invest in these critical infrastructure facilities and with industry," he said.
"We are working with state and territory governments to identify and unlock the critical upgrades that will lead to a step-change in recycling capacity.
"We will invest with governments and with industry on a one-to-one-to-one basis."
Mr Morrison said the government is determined to build demand for recycled products to boost the economy and cut down on pollution.
"Less waste, more jobs," he said.
Every year, eight million tonnes of plastic winds up in the nation's oceans.
More than 1.4 million tonnes of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres is exported annually.
Mr Morrison also noted the impact of plastic waste on Australia's "Pacific family".
At the summit, Nestle and Australian recycler iQ Renew announced a trial collecting soft plastics from more than 100,000 homes through kerbside recycling and diverted from landfill.
McDonald's is also announcing plans to move away from single use plastics.
The Australian Council of Recycling said the summit was an opportunity for real action.
"A summit that puts substance before stylistics is what we need to deal with the plastics problem," the council's chief executive Peter Shmigel said.
He said while banning some types of plastic products is understandable, such as single use imported items, many serve positive purposes.
"Therefore, we need to get smarter with the plastic we do use, especially ensuring its recyclability, and that plastic products are made with lower-emissions, domestically-sourced recycled resin ASAP," he said.