In March last year global concern about plastic pollution saw the formation of an international High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution by 2040.
The High Ambition Coalition’s three strategic goals are to reduce plastic consumption and production to sustainable levels, to enable a circular economy for plastics that protects the environment and human health and to achieve environmentally sound management and recycling of plastic waste.
As a member of this group, Australia has committed to rapidly increase plastic recycling by 2025. To meet this goal, as well as dealing with the former government’s ban on waste exports, Environment Minister Plibersek launched a $250 million Recycling Modernisation Fund.
So far $118 million of this fund has been spent on building new waste processing facilities or expanding existing ones across 160 projects. These recycling facilities include 16 dealing with glass, 60 with plastics, four with paper and cardboard, 12 with tyres and 34 with multi-materials.
“From tyre recycling in Alice Springs to plastic recycling in Dandenong, we’re creating new jobs and keeping waste out of landfill,” Plibersek said.
“This is great for the environment, but its also great for the economy. For every job in landfill, there are three jobs in recycling. We’re in a recycling jobs boom.”
In July Plibersek announced that $60 million from the fund would be dedicated to facilities for “hard to recycle” soft plastics including shopping bags, bread bags, cling wrap and chip packets.
Additional recycling funding has come from state and territory governments ($116 million) and from industry ($454 million).
Along with the funding for recycling are agreements between state and federal ministers about plastic targets for 2025. These include making packaging 100 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable; recycling or composting 75 per cent of plastic packaging; using 50 per cent recycled content in packaging and phasing out unnecessary single-use plastics.
These are all ambitious targets but they are necessary given the plastic pollution overwhelming us and the natural environment.
It should also mean plans for a grossly polluting waste to energy incinerator at Casino are abandoned.
- Leonie Blain