Today in Sydney Scott Morrison claimed his government was reducing the impact of plastic waste in Australia, and in our region. But the reality is the recycling rate for plastic packaging has fallen from 18 per cent to 16 per cent and the reincorporation of recycled plastic in new packaging, which is crucial if we are to move towards a circular economy, has fallen by a third.
Plastic packaging accounts for approximately 44 per cent of our plastic waste and 84 per cent of the harmful plastic on our coast and in our oceans.
While the Morrison Government has been unwilling to acknowledge that its Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) voluntary scheme is ineffective, an Accenture report commissioned by APCO now states that some key 2025 targets will not be met.
The APCO targets include:
It’s no surprise why the Morrison Government has failed to make progress in addressing Australia’s waste challenge. The Government’s much vaunted Recycling Investment Fund didn’t advance a single dollar in the first two years, and the Recycling Modernisation Fund that replaced it has only resulted in a single new recycling facility.
Following the July 1 ban on the export of mixed plastic, and in the absence of greater recycling capacity, it is likely that more plastic is going to landfill.
At the same time, the Government’s 2019-2025 commitment to the Pacific Ocean Litter Project has been woefully underspent. Only 10 per cent of the $16 million has been advanced so far for no on-ground outcomes and primarily to pay the salary of one Australian public servant.
Scott Morrison wants people to believe his Government’s late and light-touch waste reforms make up for its gross failures on climate change and environmental protection. While he will continue to make superficial and shiny claims, the reality is another area of policy bungles, ramping plastic production and underachievement.