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Close the Loop calls for industry action as new plastics export bans start

plastic export bans

Close the Loop Group has called for urgent industry-wide solutions as the Federal Government’s second round of plastics export bans come into effect.

From 1 July it is now illegal for companies and organisations in Australia to export mixed waste plastics unless it has been sorted into a single resin or polymer type, further processed into flakes or pellets, or combined with other materials into an engineered fuel. A plastic waste export licence is also required.

The export ban is expected to further increase the strain on Australia’s recycling and landfill capacity, with about 300,0001 tonnes of soft plastic already landfilled every year. In addition to creating an environmental hazard, the landfilling of soft plastics is a waste of valuable resources which can be reused and repurposed into other products

Close the Loop Group, is the only ASX-listed company operating in all parts of the circular economy. Chief Executive Officer Joe Foster said drastically decreasing Australia’s use of single-use plastics is no longer enough.

“While Close the Loop welcomes the banning of mixed waste plastics from export, the Australian industry now needs to quickly create and implement more industry-wide product stewardship schemes that allow plastic products to be collected, and then reused, recycled or remanufactured into other products,” Foster said.

“This waste plastic is no longer ‘out of sight, out of mind’, it’s staying in our collective backyard. Regulation provides the appropriate framework, but we are a long way from the Australian industry operating as an efficient circular economy. We need better co-ordination between manufacturers, importers, distributors, brand owners and retail chains throughout the whole product process – from design and development through to end-of-life product management.

“These schemes would also improve data collection to determine more accurately what is actually being recycled and where further action is needed.”

Foster said that if Australia is to achieve its ambitious government target of 100 per cent recyclable, reusable or compostable packaging by 2025, then the industry needs to be creating and using more packaging from recycled single polymer plastics, improving local ‘packaging to packaging’ capability, and supporting circular economy partnerships.

He said industry-wide initiatives will also help grow local jobs, increase sector innovation, and reduce dependence on imported fossil fuel-derived plastic.

Circular economy collaboration is already occurring. Two examples from Close the Loop and REDcycle, the biggest system in Australia for collecting mixed post-consumer soft plastics, include the creation of TonerPlas, an award-winning asphalt additive which uses consumer waste soft plastics and toner from old printer cartridges and other inputs to create a key ingredient used in roads and Flexinjection – moulded plastic products, in which waste soft plastics from supermarket customers are made into a variety of products and commodities.

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