Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Government to support plastic recycling with new funding

The federal government has launched a new $60 million fund for hard-to-recycle plastics, including soft plastics like shopping bags, bread bags, cling wrap and chip packets.

The funding will support new or upgraded recycling infrastructure projects such as:

  • Advanced recycling to turn plastic back into oil for re-use in food-grade packaging
  • Commercialisation of trial technology targeting ways to keep hard-to-recycle plastics in use
  • Extraction and processing of plastics from e-waste into valuable products
  • Diverting more plastics from landfill using advanced sorting, separation and de-contamination technology such as optical or robotic machinery

“These projects will help speed up the shift away from virgin plastics, towards a circular economy where materials are kept in use for as long as possible,” reads a statement.

“Combined with contributions from state and territory governments and industry, the funding will add to the more than $600 million of combined investment in recycling infrastructure the government is already delivering.”

Minister for the Environment and Water Tanya Plibersek says Australians use about 3.8 million tonnes of plastic a year and dispose of about 2.7 million tonnes.

“And we’re only recycling about 13% of it,” she adds.

“We can do better. That’s why we’re investing $60 million to boost Australia’s recycling and recovery rates for hard-to-recycle plastics.

“The funding will invest in exciting technologies that could help solve challenges in recycling plastic waste like soft plastics going into landfill.

“Labor is driving the transition to a circular economy by 2030. It’s good for the economy and great for the environment.”

The federal government has already funded 57 additional plastic recycling facilities, 12 of which are up and running.

Backed by retailers

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) welcomes the new fund.

ARA CEO Paul Zahra says the funding of infrastructure to support the transition to a circular economy is a very positive step to accelerate change and strengthen the necessary collaboration between stakeholders.

“With the profound shifts in environmental challenges and customer expectations, retailers have a strong appetite to reduce waste and embrace sustainability,” he says.

“[The] announcement serves as a strong reassurance for retailers, that the federal government is working collaboratively to support this transition to a circular economy.

“Embracing sustainability requires a holistic approach and collaboration across government, industry and consumers. We can’t rely solely on industry to drive change – and we are very supportive of the soft plastics recycling fund.”

For more information on how to apply for grants of between $1 million and $20 million, click here.

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