Packaging fails to make the cut, but we re- use plastics
THE good news is that Australians are recycling enough plastics each year to fill the Melbourne Cricket Ground five times; the bad news is that in the key target area for recycling, packaging, we are sending less than a third for re- use.
The latest Plastics and Chemicals Industries Association survey shows that Australian annual consumption of packaging would fill the MCG almost 12 times and only 30.5 per cent of it is recycled. In releasing the survey, PACIA chief executive Margaret Donnan praised Australians for being among the world’s best in plastics recycling but acknowledged there’s more we can do for the environment’’.
The European Union recycling target for plastic packaging, Donnan points out, is 22.5 per cent by the end of this year while Australia reached 30.5 per cent in 2005 and again the following year.
This performance, she argues, demonstrates the success of co- operative agreements such as the national packaging covenant that involves governments, industry and communities in reducing despatch of plastics waste to landfill.
PACIA’s policy is to see plastic waste to landfill eliminated in Australia.’’
The association maintains firm opposition to a ban on plastic bags, however. Donnan urges governments to instead increase the penalties on people and companies for allowing any materials to litter parks, roads and waterways. She points out that plastic bags make up just 2 per cent of this litter.
Donnan says a plastic bags ban will only disadvantage consumers and businesses while leaving irresponsible individuals and companies to continue littering. Responsible consumers have almost halved their use of plastic bags in less than a year,’’ she adds,
and many households re- use the bags they receive when buying groceries and other goods.’’
The annual survey, undertaken independently for PACIA, shows Australian use of plastics is on a solid upward trend, rising 14.7 per cent in eight years to 2006 while the increase in recycling is nearing treble 1997’ s.
Victoria is by far the leading state in recycling plastics packaging — passing the 75,000 tonne mark in 2006, well ahead of the more populated NSW ( 49,500 tonnes) with the other four states and the ACT managing a total of 53,000 tonnes between them.