Local recycling solution needed in wake of China rubbish ban

Posted by Andrea Hogan on 9th April 2018

Australia needs to develop on-shore recycling solutions a new report on China’s recent foreign waste ban by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation has said.

The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO), a not-for-profit that works to reduce the impact of packaging on the environment, is calling for local recycling solutions after China decided to heavily restrict the import of materials for recycling from 1 January 2018.

The decision has left a number of local councils around Australia at a lost of what to do with material for recycling piling up with nowhere to go in some areas.

APCO Chief Executive Officer, Brooke Donnelly, said viable end solutions need to be developed locally.

“We need to develop the right domestic infrastructure to lower the contamination levels in our waste and start building viable end market solutions here in Australia to ensure a smaller, cleaner packaging waste stream,” said Donnelly.

Global oversupply of recycling drops prices

APCO’s report further found that the volume of Australian export of scrap paper and plastics has remained largely stable over the past 12 months but the value of such material has dropped significantly due to a global oversupply.

Mixed paper scrap once valued at $124 per tonne has dropped approximately 100 per cent and “is now close to worthless” the APCO said.

Scrap mixed plastic has fallen 76 per cent, from $325 per tonne to $75 per tonne and cardboard is now valued at $125 per tonne, falling 40 per cent from $210 per tonne.

APCO working on packaging solutions

To help address Australia’s recycling and waste crisis, APCO says it is developing a range of solutions to improve sustainable packaging design, reduce contamination and improve recycling rates.

The APCO recently launched a new recycling label system to help Australians understand  how to recycle and dispose of food packaging correctly.

The APCO has also accelerated the delivery of its PREP design tool, an online evaluation portal that assists in determining if a packaging format is recyclable through  kerbside collection.

It is hoped PREP will help organisations develop their packaging to be recyclable through kerbside collection where possible, ensuring waste is avoided at the design stage. .

“Transitioning to a circular economy is essential if we are to reduce the environmental impacts of packaging and this requires collaboration from brands, governments, the recycling and packaging industry and consumers alike, said Donnelly.

“APCO is in a unique position to facilitate this collaboration and we look forward to working with all stakeholders to help Australia realise a circular economy.”


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