Australia’s new plan to tackle plastic pollution

By Liam Taylor  March 15th, 2021

Planet Ark was pleased to see the Australian Government’s National Plastics Plan announced this month, outlining a number of measures aimed at addressing Australia’s growing plastic problem including targets for the Australasian Recycling Label.

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The National Plastics Plan (NPP) was the culmination of work carried out following the National Plastics Summit held in 2020, which identified three key goals to guide action on plastic moving forwards. These were:

  • reduce plastic waste and increase recycling rates

  • find alternatives to the plastics we don’t need

  • reduce the amount of plastics impacting our environment.

The government plans to achieve these goals by focusing on a number of strategic actions and milestones. These are: 

  • phase out the most problematic plastics

  • work to make our beaches and oceans free of plastic

  • bring in legislation to ensure Australia takes responsibility for its plastic waste

  • invest to increase our recycling capacity

  • research to find new recycling technologies and alternatives to the plastics we don’t need

  • support the community to help Australian’s recycling efforts.

There is a clear need for a coordinated action plan on plastics in Australia. In the 2018-19 financial year, Australians used 3.5 million tonnes of plastic with a recycling rate of just 13%. Of this total, over 1 million tonnes was single-use plastics that went straight to landfill and approximately 130,000 tonnes leaked into the marine environment.

Planet Ark celebrates the recognition of the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) as a key consumer recycling education tool, with the government committing to work with industry to ensure the ARL on at least 80% of supermarket products by December 2023. 

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation will work with the government to ensure companies with a revenue greater than $500 million display the ARL, including an element on recycled content where relevant, while also support encouraging uptake by small to medium enterprises (SMEs). The ARL will also begin to be rolled out on business-to-business packaging.

The NPP also notes the importance of establishing a national hub for circular economy thinking and leadership, which was carried out by Planet Ark with the launch of the Australian Circular Economy Hub late last year. This project received grant funding from the Australian Government. Both the ACE Hub and the soon-to-be-launched Australian Circular Economy Marketplace are noted as important tools for building a circular economy for plastics in the future.

The government has also invested over $20 million to create a waste data visualisation platform, which will provide clear and nationally consistent real-time information on plastic waste generation and management around the country. Planet Ark sees this as an important development to enabling government, business, investors, researchers and communities make informed decisions on priorities for plastic waste moving into the future.

Take action to reduce your plastic footprint with these tips to avoid single-use plastic from RecyclingNearYou or find options for recycling plastic in the workplace at BusinessRecycling.

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Liam Taylor

Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia. Joining the communications team at Planet Ark, he hopes to inspire positive environmental behaviour through effective and positive messaging.

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