Monday, April 22, 2024

Senator calls for end to all ‘single-use plastics’, not just bags

Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson has urged radical action to combat plastic in what he calls Australia’s “recycling crisis”.

Mr Whish-Wilson, who is also Chair for the Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications Inquiry into waste and recycling, was commenting on the release of the report ‘Never waste a crisis: the waste and recycling industry in Australia’.

The senator says the crisis has become even more acute in the aftermath of China’s recent recyclables-import ban.

“In a rare display of political consensus, all parties have come together to issue a clarion call for how the nation needs to respond to our recycling crisis,” Mr Whish-Wilson said.

“Australia’s complacency in relying on China to buy our recyclables has exposed the vulnerabilities in our current approach, and the senate has laid down a clear pathway for Australia to create a circular economy.

“For the first time, all parties have come together in a report like this to call for a phase-out of single-use plastics – plastic bags, takeaway containers, plastic-lined coffee cups and chip packets – by 2023. We urgently need to reduce the amount of plastic waste that is ending up in landfill, in stockpiles and in our oceans.

“The report also recommends an urgent shift of focus from the bulk export of low-grade, high-volume recyclables to creating multiple streams of high-quality, low-contamination material for domestic re-use through better sorting.

“The most critical recommendation to develop a cleaner stream of waste is regarding the establishment of a national Container Deposit Scheme. This brings all states into line and allows them to follow the success of South Australia in being able to better generate high-value markets from their waste streams.

“Finally, the report calls upon the federal government to set mandatory targets for inclusion of recycled materials in its procurement process. Without incentivising domestic markets for the end-use of these waste streams, it will keep piling up at rubbish tips around the country.

Senator Peter Whish-Wilson concluded, “Never before have I seen every stakeholder, from right across the economy, call for national leadership on an issue.”

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