Recycling – everyone’s problem
It is an understatement to suggest it is time to bring the international, let alone national recycling saga to a head.
If we can’t come up with a solution in dealing with recyclable materials, it is time for Australia and worldwide community, let alone Victoria, to apply a big stick to the source of this waste.
Asking the consuming public to create demand for products made from recycled products, to work hard in separating garbage and to have faith that ‘something will happen’ is all well and good.
But it is a soft plea in response to a hard problem.
All clean raw products, including recyclable waste, always have value, albeit at various levels.
But make no mistake; if we can’t soon find markets or come up with answers for recyclable material, the product will go into the landfill as rubbish.
We will then be confronted with the almost idiotic scenario of spending a lot more money to dig and manage a lot more large holes to hide waste, some of it with little chance of breaking down into a natural state for thousands of years.
It is about time we had another serious look at the products and processes we allow companies to use in producing and packaging their goods and how much secondary waste each product creates.
The process might involve identifying and targeting material and products that are to recycle and have once-only consumer use but long-term environmental or landfill impact.
We could then work to gradually phase out some products through direct bans or incentive or disincentive schemes, perhaps based on the end cost to society in processing waste material.
It would force producers to take on higher levels of responsibility for what they create and find alternative ways of creating or packaging their products.
It might sound tough and it would be hard to get the equation right without causing serious financial and economic harm, especially when considering how open the floodgates are at the moment.
But we’re talking about a long, drawn-out process that might span decades.
The problem didn’t happen overnight and finding a fix is the same.
We’ve successfully responded to problem products in the past, phasing out everything from asbestos to chlorofluorocarbons, after understanding the threats.
Making a move is simply based on how important we consider a need for drastic action.
The money to establish giant landfills to cope with the amount of waste we are creating might be better spent providing support and guidance for companies encouraged or forced into making drastic changes to their operations.
It seems ironic, that in our quest to passionately pursue the concept of recycling, which still makes a lot of sense and has a huge role to play moving forward, we have been blind to its ultimate fragility.