The government ban on waste plastics exports, effective today, is a critical step to create a local packaging circular economy, says the Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC).
Currently, there is a global shortage for high quality recycled plastic that meets the stringent quality needs for food grade packaging. It is understood the two phases of the ban should increase the quality of recycled plastics.
“Plastic recycling in Australia shouldn’t be a challenge,” AFGC CEO Tanya Barden says.
“We welcome working with all stakeholders to create a circular economy and the ability to recycle these mixed plastics.”
Ms Barden says the ban is a signal to the entire supply chain that “we need to think quality recycling and not just recycling and that it is a whole of industry issue”.
“We need a mixture of plastics to package our food and beverages, to keep the food safe and prolong its shelf life. Without it, we will see more food waste and that alone is detrimental to the environment”.
Due to the current low recycling rates of soft plastics and the global lack of food grade plastic packaging, the AFGC is developing the National Plastics Recycling Scheme.
With support from the Australian Government’s Product Stewardship Investment Fund, the AFGC and member companies in collaboration with the entire plastics supply chain aim to increase collection, recycling and end market demand for recycled soft plastics.
The ultimate aim, says the AFGC, is to fast-track advanced recycling that can safely recycle soft plastic packaging back into soft plastic packaging, as recently piloted by Kit Kat, Central Coast Council, Licella, IQRenew, Viva Energy, LyondellBasell and Amcor.
“Whole of supply chain collaboration and investment in advanced sorting and recycling technologies are essential by all industry sectors if we are to create a successful and sustainable circular economy,” Ms Barden says.