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In an attempt to address the issue of plastic waste, Plastic Forests have developed the Mini Wheel Stop – Australia’s first recycled product for inside the home made entirely from mixed plastic film.
Plastic Forests Managing Director David Hodge said Australia generates an estimated 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste every year, but currently only has the capacity to recycle 12 per cent.
According to Mr Hodge, the situation is worse for contaminated plastic film, with less than one per cent being recycled.
Mr Hodge said wide spread manufacturing of the Mini Wheel Stop could enable the diversion of 8.8 million kilograms of plastic film waste from landfill – 12 per cent of the total plastic waste exported to Malaysia last year.
For the past 20 years Australia has sent its plastic waste to cheap reprocessing operations in China, Vietnam, Malaysia and India.
“With thousands of poor backyard operations using basic technology, the unusable plastic was simply buried, burned or washed into rivers causing widespread environmental pollution,” Mr Hodge said.
“In January 2018 China effectively banned the importation of the world’s plastic waste, imposing strict contamination regulations. Now much of Australia’s plastic waste has nowhere to go other than landfill.”
Although there is some capacity in Australia for recycling PET, HDPE and cartons, there is little built capacity for recycling plastic film such as plastic bags and packaging.
The Mini Wheel Stop is designed as a parking marker for the garage floor, enabling car owners to stop guessing whether they are parking in the right spot, and preventing damage to the car, walls and belongings.
Each Mini Wheel Stop is made in Australia with the equivalent of 155 plastic bags, thereby locally recycling the mixed plastic film waste previously exported to China, Vietnam, Malaysia and India.
“It’s important that people realise recycling doesn’t end when we put out our recycling bin, it’s a complex issue, but at the end of the day, recycling only works when someone buys a recycled product,” Mr Hodge said.
“Our hope is that some big retailers will support us by stocking our new Mini Wheel Stop, it could even be made from their own plastic waste and branded – enabling us to divert more plastic from landfill and create a circular economy.”
Mr Hodge said while plastic is creating devastating effects for oceans and the environment, it also enables the 21st century lifestyle.
“As a society, we need to think smarter about how we use plastic through its whole life cycle, creating circular economies and reducing our plastic use wherever possible,” Mr Hodge said.
“In a world of limited resources plastic recycling is an important part of the story. We need individuals, corporates and government to buy Australian products made with recycled content.”
Plastic Forests have recently invested in a new site in Albury NSW, which Mr Hodge said will significantly ramp up the company’s reprocessing capabilities.
“Our new five acre industrial facility will allow us to further expand our recycling capabilities and manufacture additional products, keeping ‘plastic as plastic’ and out of landfill,” Mr Hodge said.
Plastic Forests was the recipient of a grant from the NSW EPA’s ‘Waste Less Recycle More’ $802 million initiative in 2016.