The Australian government has confirmed it will stop shipping plastics and other recyclables overseas for processing after a meeting of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) in Cairns.
The COAG has “agreed Australia should establish a timetable to ban the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres, while building Australia’s capacity to generate high value recycled commodities and associated demand.”
A firm date is yet to be announced.
Formerly China was the world’s leading importer of recyclable and other waste from developed nations, now however, they’ve put tough - near impossible - restrictions on what can be exported to their shores. At the time, Australia was exporting around 1.3-million tonnes of recyclable waste like plastic, paper and cardboard to China.
According to an ABC report, “Just last month, recycling operator SKM told 30 Victorian councils it could no longer collect material from them due to financial problems, meaning 180,000 tonnes of recyclable waste would instead end up in landfill.”
“Both incidents have shown the vulnerability of Australia’s recycling system in the face of disruption, and the need to boost local capacity,” the report said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters following the COAG meeting in Cairns that industry and leaders alike needed to take more responsibility for managing waste.
“It’s our waste and it’s our responsibility,” Morrison said.
“That’s why I think setting a clear path forward as leaders - that we don’t want to see this going into the ocean, that we don’t want to see this go into waterways, and we’ll do everything in our remit to achieve that goal - is a very important outcome.”
“There’s an implied promise that when you take that plastic bottle and you put it in that little plastic bin, that it’s not going to end up in the ocean somewhere or a river somewhere, or in a landfill somewhere, people think it’s going to be recycled,” he said.
We reported earlier this year that Malaysia had sent back 3,000-tones of waste back to Australia, the U.S. and the U.K.., highlighting the growing trend in developing nations in particular that are beginning to stop importing waste.