The Cooperative Research Centre Projects grant ($29.1 million) rounds 8 and 10 funded research projects to explore innovative ways to recycle plastics and reduce plastics going to landfill.
Many plastics that we use are necessary in modern society. For the plastics that we need, it is important that we manage them responsibly and in a way that is sustainable. Recycling allows us to re-use plastic resources many times over.
Actions to improve how we manage the plastics that are necessary
Regulate waste plastic exports by banning the export of unsorted mixed plastic from 1 July 2021 and unprocessed single polymer or resin plastics from 1 July 2022.
The Recycling Modernisation Fund (RMF) will turbo-charge Australia’s recycling industry, generating $600 million of recycling investment. This will also be supported by the Modern Manufacturing Strategy ($1.5 billion) which identifies recycling as a national manufacturing priority.
Invest $7 million to support 10 projects through the National Product Stewardship Investment Fund to establish new plastics product stewardship schemes and expand existing schemes.
Assess and identify collection processes and the feasibility of reprocessing packaging waste in remote and regional areas through partnerships.
Industry to deliver 4 National Packaging Targets by 2025, of which 2 concern recycling:
- 70% of plastic packaging being recycled or composted
- 50% of average recycled content included in packaging (20% for plastic packaging).
The first review of the National Environment Protection (Used Packaging Materials) Measure 2011 and Australian Packaging Covenant to evaluate how well the co-regulatory arrangements are working to reduce the environmental impacts of packaging.
Establish a National Circular Economy Hub and Marketplace by end of 2021.
Work across the plastics recycling supply chain to develop nationally consistent performance standards for material recovery facilities to deliver clean feedstock for remanufacturing.
Businesses to commit to increase their use of recycled content through Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation’s (APCO) Member Pledge program.
The Australian Government has strengthened the Commonwealth Procurement Rules to make sustainability, including the use of recycled materials, part of the value for money assessment for everything it buys.
The Australian Government is committed to significantly increasing the amount of goods and services we buy that use recycled content. Download the Sustainable Procurement Guide.
Crushed transparent plastic bottles with colourful wrappers, about to be recycled.
Excavator working at open pit mining on sunset background.
Waste processing plant. Recycling and storage of waste for further disposal.
Australia is taking responsibility for its plastic waste. The Australian Government supports industry action. The following case studies highlight how industry are taking the necessary steps to increase Australia’s recycling capacity.
Mars launched their Sustainable in a Generation Plan in 2017 with an initial $1 billion commitment. Since then, they have made progress to curb the environmental impacts of their operations.
One of Mars’ most important goals is to develop packaging that is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. To work towards this goal, Mars partnered with REDcycle to collect and reuse flexible plastic from its Petcare, Food and Chocolate and Confectionery businesses. This recovered plastic is then turned into park benches and fence posts.
In the first year alone, this partnership saw 8.6 tonnes of plastic packaging diverted from landfill.
The Australian Government Department of Defence delivered its first recycled road at RAAF Base Williams, Point Cook in 2020. The project used 600kg of plastics and 210 tonnes of concrete waste rubble as sub-base material.
The Transport and Infrastructure Council has tasked Austroads to develop specifications for the use of road-grade recycled plastics in sustainable asphalt pavements by the end of 2021.
The following eight case studies have been funded through the Australian Government's National Product Stewardship Investment Fund (PSIF).
Equilibrium OMG Pty Ltd – ‘SeatCare’
The Australian Government awarded $930,000 to Equilibrium to help develop a product stewardship scheme for old, unwanted or obsolete child safety seats. It is estimated that over 200,000 child seats are disposed of each year. These seats are made primarily out of hard plastics. Most of these seats are sent to landfill, however, most can be recycled. The ‘SeatCare’ program aims to recover and recycle old and unwanted child safety seats.
RM Consulting Group Pty Ltd – ‘National Non-Packaging Agricultural Plastics Stewardship Scheme’
The Australian Government awarded RM Consulting Group $893,866 to address the extensive use of plastic in the agriculture industry and lack of pathways to recover and recycle materials. The program will create a business case and scheme design to address collection logistics and processing equipment. These plans will then be implemented in two 6-month pilots for non-packing agricultural plastics in south-east Queensland and Victoria.
Australian Food and Grocery Council Limited – ‘National Plastics Recycling Scheme’
The Australian Government awarded $985,000 to the Australian Food and Grocery Council to develop the National Plastics Recycling Scheme (NPRS). The scheme will initially focus on increasing the diversion of soft plastics such as bread, cereal and frozen vegetable bags etc from landfill, and aims to collect and recycle nearly 190,000 tonnes of plastic packaging per annum by 2025.
Planet Ark Environmental Foundation – ‘National coffee capsule product stewardship recycling scheme’
The Australian Government awarded $940,000 to Planet Ark, in collaboration with Nespresso and Woolworths Group, to establish a national product stewardship scheme to collect and recycle all brands and types of coffee capsules. Creating a recycling system for coffee capsules is important given their rise in popularity in recent years. This project will raise recycling rates and reduce organic material in landfill.
Vinyl Council of Australia – ‘TexBack: PVC-Polyester Textiles Stewardship Scheme’
The Australian Government awarded $349, 850 to the Vinyl Council of Australia (VCA) to research and develop a business case for a national product stewardship scheme for end-of-life polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and polyester (PES) composite textile products and scrap. The TexBack initiative could divert approximately 1.5 million metric tonnes of scrap from landfill and could potentially create more than 560 jobs.
Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation Ltd supported by Greenlife Industry Australia – ‘Polypropylene Plant Packaging Recycling Program’
The Australian Government awarded $549,000 to Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) to establish a national recovery and recycling program for polypropylene plant packaging, including plant pots, tray and tags. APCO will work closely with the horticultural sector to design and implement an industry endorsed network of collection points for plant packaging.
BioPak Pty Ltd – ‘The Compost Network’
The Australian Government awarded $398,000 to BioPak to bring major industry participants together to collaborate to turn compostable packaging and food waste into nutrient rich soil. The foodservice industry in Australia contributes nearly 900,000 tonnes of organic waste to landfill annually that could be recovered and composed. Product stewardship schemes for organic waste and compostable packaging will be provided to businesses through an online platform making it easier for thousands of Australian businesses to engage in sustainable practices.
Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation Limited – ‘A comprehensive product stewardship framework for plastic oil containers’
The Australian Government awarded $632,000 to the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) to develop a new national collection and recycling scheme for plastic oil containers. Plastic oil containers are unable to be recycled via kerbside collections due to the residual oil on the containers, which present an environmental and safety hazard. APCO will engage with industry and government to implement a safe and effective product stewardship model. This model will engage the entire supply chain and address industry funding, free-rider protection and national coverage.