The National Plastic Plan outlines the Australian Government’s approach to increasing plastic recycling, by finding alternatives to unnecessary plastics and reducing the impact of plastic on the environment. Australia is on a plastic mission – plastic waste is an issue government, industry and community are engaged with to fix and be held accountable.
In March 2020, over 200 industry leaders and experts came together for Australia’s first National Plastics Summit to identify and showcase new recycling innovations.
The National Plastics Plan expands on five ways the Australian Government is tackling the plastic issue to do their part;
- Working with industry to fast-track the phase-out of particularly problematic plastic materials
- Stopping the export of unprocessed plastic waste and promoting product stewardship through the Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020
- Unprecedented investments to turbo-charge Australia’s plastic recycling capacity
- Research to make Australia a global leader in plastic recycling and reprocessing
- Community education to help consumers make informed decisions and recycle correctly
The Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020, was an early initiative from the Government on their process to accountability and involvement. The Act became law in December 2020 and puts in place Australia’s world-leading waste export ban. The new legislation bans the export of unsorted mixed plastics from 1 July 2021 and unprocessed single polymer or resin plastics from 1 July 2022.
The National Plastics Plan acknowledges that no single intervention can fix the plastics problem on its own.
Addressing the plastic problem will require multiple interventions across the entire plastic life-cycle. This will include design, use, recovery and reuse.
Product design provides an unmatched point of intervention to reduce plastic waste. It is estimated that the design stage of a product determines 80% of its total environmental impact.
To support improved product design the Australian Government will convene a Plastic Design Summit in 2021 with input from the Design Institute of Australia. This will fast track industry’s use of more sustainable product design, including a shift to reusable products and plastics that are more likely to be recycled.
CSIRO is aiding the Australian Government to hit its target of reducing total waste generation in Australia by 10 per cent per person by 2030, as well as aiming to achieve an 80 per cent average resource recovery rate.
The collaboration reviews four materials that are common waste streams:
- Tyres (automotive and mining)
CSIRO’s research brings together industry stakeholders and government to explore circular economy opportunities for materials in Australia.