Plastic waste technology in spotlight

Chemistry Australia has collaborated with CSIRO on a new report into advanced recycling technologies that can increase the recovery and recycling of Australia’s plastic resources.

The Advanced recycling technologies to address Australia’s plastic waste report looks at technology that is increasingly used overseas to convert plastic waste into high-value recycled plastics and other products.

The report builds awareness of technologies which are still relatively new to Australia and is expected to be a valuable resource for industry, policy makers and communities looking for ways to strengthen Australia’s recycling capability and manage used plastics that can’t be processed through existing channels.

National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC) Chief Executive Rose Read welcomed the report, acknowledging the low plastics recycling rate in Australia and the need to address this to meet the National Waste Policy Action Plan target of 80 per cent resource recovery by 2030.

“The National Waste Report 2020 shows that Australia produces 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste each year, has the lowest recovery rate at just 15 per cent and the recycled content of consumed plastics is estimated at just 4 per cent,” Read said.

“Australia is currently recovering around 355,000 tonnes of plastics, so to meet the 80 per cent resource recovery rate by 2030 we need to recover at least an additional 1.67 million tonnes.

“Advancements in technology will play a major role in recovering and processing plastics and driving the circular economy. It will also assist in meeting other targets such as the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation’s target of 70 per cent of plastic packaging to be recycled or composted by 2025.”

NWRIC is undertaking a National Material Specifications for Sorting and Processing Facilities Project to improve Australia’s resource recovery standards and procedures to help reduce the amount of material going to landfill, including plastics.

“These specifications will assist Australian recyclers meet market demands for recovered materials locally and overseas and improve the quality of recovered materials as tradeable commodities,” Read said.

“Through the project we are also looking to stimulate domestic re-use of recovered materials by improving market information which leads to greater confidence in the quality of recovered materials.”


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