New procurement policy to drive circular economy

Recycled plastic. | Newsreel
A new Federal procurement policy will include requirements to use recycled material. | Photo: Aydin Mutlu (iStock)

Businesses bidding for Federal Government work will need to meet new sustainability benchmarks from July.

Australia’s first national Environmentally Sustainable Procurement Policy will apply to companies bidding for government construction services projects above $7.5 million.

From July 1 this year, they must meet certain sustainability outcomes, which include cutting or repurposing waste and replacing single-use materials with recycled materials.

From 1 July 2025, the policy will extend to tenders for textiles, ICT goods, and furniture, fittings and equipment above $1 million.

Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said it may include requirements to recover and recycle worn out uniforms that can be processed into new materials.

Minister Plibersek said the project categories were chosen for their high impacts on nature and their immense potential in providing work for Australia’s domestic recycling industry.

“At its heart, this policy is about delivering a future remade in Australia – remaking, remanufacturing and recycling more goods to boost jobs while better protecting the environment,” she said.

The procurement policy was developed in consultation with construction services companies and industry peak bodies.

Minister Plibersek said in the first year it would apply to two percent of Australian Government construction services procurement contracts, but capture 50 percent of the value of all these contracts.

She said the recently released Circular Economy Ministerial Advisory Group interim report recommended ways the Government could boost the country’s domestic manufacturing capabilities through reuse, repair and recycling, including:

  • A Productivity Commission Inquiry to investigate how resource efficiency supports economic growth.
  • Developing a National Circular Economy Framework and a power to set specific circularity standards for products and materials.
  • Introducing a national ‘recycled content first’ policy to drive recycled content markets.
  • Setting up sector-based circular economy targets and embed circular economy principles in key climate policies.

Read the Environmentally Sustainable Procurement Policy and Reporting Framework.

Read the Circular Economy Ministerial Advisory Group interim report.