Plastic is a dynamic material, and is a part of our everyday lives. It can be found in most products that we buy at the shops, in our cars, our computers, our phones, and in the construction of our houses. Unfortunately, while plastic has been incredibly useful, it is also annihilating our oceans, plants, and wildlife, and even impacting the health of humans around the world.
While it is found all around us, plastic is also spread throughout our oceans, our rivers, our lakes, our beaches… and most other places. In fact, microplastics, which are almost invisible to the naked eye, are commonly found in our foods… and therefore, us! In short, plastic pollution has become an epidemic in Australia, and around the world.
So, what are we doing about it?
The National Plastics Plan 2021
Last year, the Australian government put together a plan to combat the huge amount of plastic waste that we produce around the country. The aim of the plan is to create a framework and processes that greatly reduce the amount of plastic that we use and dispose of. It also aims to ensure that far more single-use plastics are recycled. The report itself, which can be found here, provides some concerning statistics.
– In 2018-19, Australians used 3.5 million tonnes of plastic.
– Approximately 60% of that plastic was imported into Australia, not produced here.
– Every year, we use about one million tonnes of single-use plastic in Australia.
– Aussies use roughly 70 billion pieces of scrunchable plastics every single year, including things like chip packets and fresh produce bags.
– At the current rate of use, it’s estimated that by 2050, the amount of plastic in the oceans will be heavier than the weight of all the fish combined.
Just one of these stats shows exactly why vigorous action is required, right away. And that’s not just in Australia, but around the globe.
Where does our plastic go?
One of the key questions at the heart of the National Plastics Plan, is ‘where does our plastic waste go?’. The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment found that only about 13% of all the plastic we use is actually recycled. 84% of all plastic ends up in landfill, where, at this stage, it’s simply doomed to sit for thousands of years.
At home, it’s very easy for plastic to end up in the rubbish bin, and not in the recycling bin. What’s more, soft plastics are more difficult to recycle, and must be taken to supermarkets or other spots that accept soft plastics. And even then, as we’ve seen recently with REDcycle, the organisations that take the plastic may not deal with it as promised.
Therefore, it’s clear that the vast majority of plastic that we use ends up in landfills, and that is simply not good enough.
What does most of our plastic waste consist of?
The majority of Australia’s plastic waste is made up of a few common types, from both households and businesses around the country.
– Plastic packaging
– Plastic bottles for water and other beverages
– Cigarette butts
– Milk cartons
– Some items of clothing, such as those made from polyester.
Commercial and industrial plastic
– Plastic packaging
– Electronic waste, such as computers and phones
– Furniture items like chairs and desks
– Plastic trays and accessories.
All kinds of households and businesses produce plastic waste, and we all need to do more to reduce waste at the source, before it actually becomes waste.
Preventing waste at the source
Prevention will always be the most effective way to reduce any type of waste, plastic included. This is why reducing the amount of plastic we use each day, for individuals, consumers and businesses, is incredibly important. The National Plastics Plan includes prevention as one of its core principles.
In the report, this is broken down into a number of actionable steps:
Phasing out problematic plastics by mid to late 2022. This includes plastics that fragment, turning into microplastics. Eliminating polystyrene is part of this step, along with PVC packaging labels.
Removing plastic from beaches is the next step, meaning single-use plastics will be banned entirely from all Australian beaches. The government aims to help local businesses transition to more sustainable products.
Shifting industry to plastics that are more easily recycled, making it more cost-effective and diverting more plastics away from landfill.
The industry aims to introduce plastic packaging targets, meaning that by 2025 it aims to have 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging across Australia. It also aims to phase out problematic, single-use plastics.
We can all do our part at home, too, by opting out of single-use plastics and buying more sustainable and reusable items. One example is opting for either bamboo or cornstarch toothbrushes, instead of plastic.
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If you’re looking for rubbish removal in Sydney, we’re here to help. At Sydney City Rubbish, we have years of experience in dealing with all kinds of waste, including large plastic waste. We know exactly how to get the job done in the safest, swiftest and most sustainable way.