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National Plastics Summit 2020: Plastics and the circular economy

Cleanaway’s Mark Biddulph summarises his National Plastics Summit 2020 presentation on creating a circular economy for plastics

Industry Updates

March 17, 2020

Highlights

Continuing industry and government engagement will go a long way to achieving even more sustainable outcomes for plastics and the domestic recycling economy.

Highlights

Continuing industry and government engagement will go a long way to achieving even more sustainable outcomes for plastics and the domestic recycling economy.

Head of Corporate Affairs Mark Biddulph recently presented at the National Plastics Summit 2020 in Canberra. Over 200 senior representatives from government, industry and community sectors participated in the forum, which showcased new solutions for plastic waste to address targets in the National Waste Policy Action Plan and inform the upcoming National Plastic Plan.

By Mark Biddulph

The concept of a circular economy is a hot topic in conversations around plastics and rightfully so. A circular economy closes the loop on materials we consume by using a recycled product in the remanufacturing process. In addition to creating a sustainable supply chain of materials, it allows for new technology, innovation, industries, markets and jobs to flourish.

Critical to a circular economy is a thriving market for recycled materials – including domestic production. Without ready demand, recyclable materials are at risk of being stockpiled or worse, sent to landfill. Government, industry and individuals all have a role to play in growing the demand for recyclable material.

This includes regulations to improve material quality for use in manufacturing. Federal and State Government support is also required to invest in reprocessing and remanufacturing infrastructure, incentives for domestic use of recyclable commodities and standardisation of recycling rules and levies. The harmonisation of waste levies takes away the incentive for long-distance waste transport which in turn encourages a consistent infrastructure strategy and investment across jurisdictions.

 

Circular economy for plastics in action

Container return schemes encourage consumers to separate recycling at the point of disposal. At Cleanaway we have seen firsthand the environmental, economic and social benefits of a container return scheme and how it improves the quality of recyclable materials.

NSW’s container deposit scheme has collected more than 3 billion containers in just over two years. Our Eastern Creek Container Sorting Facility sends 100% of materials received to reputable recyclers and depending on the markets for recyclable commodities, up to 75% of all materials received are sold domestically which feeds into the local recycling economy.

The recent partnership between Cleanaway, Pact Group and Asahi Beverages to build a plastic pelletising facility is an excellent example of industry-led innovation and investment. Over 900 million plastic bottles will be recycled and reused as raw material for the production of food and beverage packaging.

The partnership will see Cleanaway supplying feedstock through our collections network and the new plastic pelletising facility processing used PET bottles into pellets then made into new containers by Asahi Beverages and Pact Group.

We’re excited to be leading the way towards a sustainable future. Continuing industry and government engagement will go a long way to achieving even more sustainable outcomes for plastics and the domestic recycling economy.

Contact us to find out how we’re making a sustainable future possible for communities across Australia.