Recycling is something we are all taught to do, but is it really ending up where we think it is?
A recent survey done by the Australian Department of Environment and Energy captured the consumption and recycling patterns of plastics during the last financial year. The survey revealed that over 3.4 million tonnes of plastic were consumed by Australians and only 320,000 tonnes of these plastics were recycled.
Once in the recycle bin it begins to make its journey around the world. With China’s decision to no longer accept the world’s recycled waste, countries have been left scrambling to create action plans. The Guardian revealed that majority of Australia’s recycling ends up stockpiled in warehouses or shipped to South-East Asia to be illegally burned. In 2018, more than 71,000 tonnes of rubbish ended up in Malaysia!
What is Australia doing?
Due to the large amount of plastic consumed the Australian Government has announced they will spend $190 million on new recycling infrastructure, which will assist in diverting up to 10,000 tonnes of plastic, paper and glass from landfill. The funding is expected to be matched by all the states to form a $600m recycling modernisation fund to help build the recycling infrastructure Australia needs. The new recycling infrastructure is set to be in place by 2024, when a full waste export ban will come into effect.
How can I help?
Purchase used items instead of buying new: The most effective way to help Australia’s recycling crisis is to reduce and reuse. You can almost find anything second hand. Not only will this save money, but it will reduce the amount of materials and energy used in creating and transporting new products.
Look for products that use less packaging: When items have less packaging, it means manufactures have used less raw materials. This reduces both waste and cost.
*CHANGE TIP: Buy in bulk to avoid copious amounts of packaging.
Maintain and repair: If you do need to buy something new, invest in a brand that is reliable and has good reviews. You want it to stand the test of time instead of needing to be constantly replaced. When a product does start to show signs of wear and tear, opt to repair it rather than replace it. Or give it to someone who is willing to show it some extra love!
- Recycle: Recycling is still extremely beneficial to our environment and the planet. According to the Environmental Protection Agency recycling plastic and glass saves nearly one third of the energy used then when compared to making a new product from virgin materials.