Australian Government Alters Paper Procurement Policy

The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) of Australia has been having a dispute with the federal government over changes in its paper procurement policy. After a review of CFMEU’s information and communication technology (ICT) sustainability plan, the government agreed to alter its policy. The plan prescribes conditions which government agencies are expected to follow when buying paper.

According to Michael O’Connor, CFMEU National Secretary, the new change in policy allows Australian Paper and Amcor recycled paper products to be included in the government’s procurement guidelines.

The union pointed out that without the policy changes, federal government agencies would have purchased 100% of their office paper from overseas in the future at the expense of Australian jobs. The new change means that Australian made paper made at the Australian Paper de-inking and recycling facility will be eligible to be purchased by the government. This will also benefit many workers at the Amcor mill in Botany, New South Wales. Furthermore, under the new rules, Wastepaper from offices, printers, envelope plants and paper converters will be recognized as ‘post consumer waste’.

O’Connor added, “We were trying to make sure the definition of recycled paper was consistent with Australian standards and normal practices in the local industry. This definition was pretty critical. The government was reviewing its procurement policy to strengthen the definition of recycled products.”

Back in July O’Connor said, “The government is the biggest purchaser of paper in Australia, but the current procurement system effectively discriminates against local manufacturers. The Prime Minister needs to end this absurd situation which is continuing to cost Australian jobs and instead put into place practices which support local manufacturing workers.”

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