Industry backs Australia’s ability to manage plastic recycling

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) commends the government for the Ban on Waste Plastics Exports, that is effective today, as a critical step to create a local packaging circular economy.

The two phases of the Waste Plastics Export ban, supported with Government funding from the $600 million Recycling Modernisation Fund invested in the recycling sector, should increase the quality of recycled plastics. Currently, there is a global shortage for high quality recycled plastic that meets the stringent quality needs for food grade packaging. To ensure community safety, packaging for food, medicines and chemicals must meet high quality standards which cannot be compromised.

AFGC CEO Tanya Barden said that “plastic recycling in Australia shouldn’t be a challenge and we welcome working with all stakeholders to create a circular economy and the ability to recycle these mixed plastics.

“Today’s 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 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.

Tanya Barden said, “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. The export ban for mixed plastics should focus the recycling industry’s efforts on modernising to become a supplier of high-quality inputs in the packaging supply chain rather than historically being a collector and exporter of waste. This requires the sector to take advantage of the significant government funds available to invest and innovate to meet the needs of the circular economy.”