A Plastics Recycling Results Roadmap is set to be produced following a roundtable meeting hosted by Assistant Waste Reduction Minister Trevor Evans and Australian Council of Recycling (ACOR) CEO Pete Shmigel.
Phasing out cigarette filters, microbeads and most types of disposable plastic foodware and containers would help halve the amount of plastic pollution flowing into Australia’s environment, according to a new report.
Industry has defended Australia’s recycling operations following an ABC Four Corners investigation on ‘plastic wars’ that revealed the actions of the American plastics industry are ‘fooling consumers’.
The Queensland Government has introduced legislation to ban single-use plastic items, starting with straws, stirrers, cutlery and plates.
Australian supermarket giant Coles has reached a milestone of one billion pieces of soft plastics recycled through its partnership with REDcycle, a recovery initiative for post-consumer soft plastic.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and other digital technologies will be harnessed to tackle global challenges including plastic waste and illegal fishing, as part of a new partnership between CSIRO and Microsoft.
One of Australia’s largest online fashion retailers has announced it will start transitioning to delivery satchels made from 100 per cent post-consumer plastic waste.
In a social media post on Tuesday 26 May, THE ICONIC stated that it’s the first major Australian and New Zealand retailer to make the move to 100 per cent recycled plastic satchels.
Via REDcycle, a Melbourne-based consulting and recycling organisation who has developed and implemented a recovery initiative for post-consumer soft plastic, THE ICONIC will minimise its environmental impact.
“From today we’re transitioning to more sustainable satchels. This means your next order sent by THE ICONIC warehouse will be delivered in a satchel made of 100 per cent post-consumer plastic waste – recycled plastic that has had a previous life and can be recycled again,” the company said in an online statement.
“Achieving 100 per cent recycled content wasn’t easy in our usual black design, so we’ve made the switch to white! Bringing this project to life has been an incredible journey and involved many cross-functional teams.”
Since 2018, THE ICONIC has been a signatory of the Australian Packaging Covenant (APCO).
“A huge congratulations to APCO Member, THE ICONIC, for the launch of its new delivery satchels, made from 100 per cent recycled plastic and fully recyclable via REDcycle bins in Coles and Woolworths supermarkets,” APCO said in a social media post on Tuesday.
“This is a significant commitment and is a perfect example of the work being undertaken across the industry to avoid the use of virgin plastics and create end markets for recycled materials.”
The satchels are certified by the GECA (Good Environmental Choice Australia) Recycled Products Standard to verify their recycled content and ensure they meet specific social and environmental criteria.
“It’s a bold move, but it’s a testament to our sustainability commitments. In the same way, because we are committed to avoiding unnecessary waste, our transition from our former black packaging to new white packaging will take a few months,” the company said in an online statement.
“This is a huge milestone for us on our journey towards meeting our 2022 Sustainable Packaging Targets.”
THE ICONIC set five sustainable packaging targets to meet by 2022, including 100 per cent of THE ICONIC’s shipping packaging made of recycled content and private label primary packaging materials will be fully recyclable in Australia, 80 per cent of THE ICONIC’s private label paper and cardboard packaging will be made from verified recycled pulp and have on-package communication about their sustainability or recyclability and lastly, 70 per cent more of THE ICONIC’s private label poly bags made of recycled plastic.
During THE ICONIC’s search for a more sustainable alternative, its sustainability team and Packaging Working Group investigated multiple materials and even tested a home-compostable satchel.
“Despite being one of our best performers, most customers in Australia and New Zealand don’t have access to composting at home nor access to commercial compost services,” THE ICONIC stated.
“It means packaging would likely end up in landfill or in the soft plastics recycling stream, compromising its potential for recycling. That’s why we landed on our 100 per cent recycled post-consumer plastic satchels,
“To align with this framework, we are working on packaging sustainability holistically: our in-house sustainability team developed a dedicated packaging strategy, reviewed over 80 per cent of the packaging we are directly responsible for, and developed THE ICONIC Supplier Sustainable Packaging Guidelines and Private Label Sustainable Packaging Requirements to tackle our non-customer facing packaging strategy,” the company stated on its website.
THE ICONIC said that packaging plays an essential product-protection role in ensuring that its customers’ items arrive in pristine condition.
“This way, your new purchase can have a long life in your wardrobe and warrant the original investment of natural resources in production. The cost of not protecting these items can be more detrimental than if they weren’t packaged sufficiently,” THE ICONIC stated.
Over 10,000 people have already provided a submission on the NSW Government’s plan to tackle the use of plastics, reduce waste and pollution and increase recycling across the state.
There are currently two papers open for consultation until Friday, May 8.
The issues paper Cleaning Up Our Act: The Future for Waste and Resource Recovery in NSW was released for public consultation last month, to help shape the development of the NSW 20-Year Waste Strategy.
The NSW Plastics Plan discussion paper outlines actions to reduce single-use plastics in NSW and help the shift towards a circular economy.
For more information on the policy proposals click here.
The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment said in a statement that the plan is crucial considering in 2018-19, 60 per cent of all littered items were made from plastic and by 2050 there will be more plastic by weight in the ocean than fish.
The second paper open for public submissions is the Cleaning Up Our Act: The Future for Waste and Resource Recovery in NSW issues paper.
The Cleaning Up Our Act plan outlines options to reduce waste and increase recycling, guides the opportunities and strategic direction for future waste and recycling infrastructure, and for growing sustainable end markets for recycled materials.
A NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment spokesperson said there has been a fantastic response to the consultations on the 20 Year Waste Strategy and Plastics Plan.
“We have received thousands of submissions and encourage more people to have their say, with consultation running until 8 May,” the Department spokesperson said.
The Department spokesperson said to adapt during COVID-19, the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has moved planned face to face engagement, to hold online forums and a webinar.
“The online forums allowed participants to take an in-depth look at the issues and opportunities presented by the 20 Year Waste Strategy and Plastics Plan papers, with a strong level of engagement from industry, councils, peak bodies and government agencies,” they said.
The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment will analyse all submissions following the closure of the consultation period next month.
“Submissions will be analysed and taken into consideration when developing the 20 Year Waste Draft Strategy and there will be an opportunity to provide feedback on the draft strategy in late 2020,” the Department spokesperson said.
“The Department of Planning, Industry and Environment is looking forward to analysing the submissions and developing an innovative and impactful 20 Year Waste Draft Strategy in late 2020.”
Queensland is taking the next step in removing single-use plastics from the environment, opening consultation on a state-wide ban that will initially focus on straws, drink stirrers, cutlery and plates.
Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said single-use plastic was an increasing problem, damaging the state’s environment and marine life.
“It’s time to decide the future of single-use plastics in Queensland. Plastic pollution in our environment affects every aspect of our lives – from the water we drink and the food we consume, to the plants, animals and outdoor places we all love and enjoy,” she said.
“We are looking to limit and, where necessary, ban the supply of most single-use plastic products starting with straws, stirrers, plates, cutlery and cups.”
Ms Enoch said the state government’s Plastic Pollution Reduction Plan, released in 2019, committed to introducing enabling legislation in 2020, subject to consultation, to ban the supply of specific plastic products.
“In the future we’ll also consider other forms of single-use items such as coffee cups, heavyweight plastic shopping bags and polystyrene containers, but right now we’re focused on straws, stirrers, plates and cutlery,” she said.
According to Ms Enoch, the state government wants to hear as many perspectives as possible. She added that the needs of people with disability and the age care sector would be taken into account.
“Over 75 per cent of rubbish that is removed from Australian beaches is made of plastic. Our government has already taken steps to reduce plastic with the ban on single-use plastics bags and the introduction of Containers for Change,” she said.
“Those initiatives have seen hundreds of millions of individual plastic products kept from entering the environment, and now we’re looking ahead. We want to hear from Queenslanders as we take this next step.”