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Government’s National Plastics Plan to close the loop on plastic waste

The Australian Government revealed its National Plastics Plan on Thursday, in an effort to improve environmental outcomes and support more recycling and recovery of plastics.

The plan importantly acknowledges the role all stakeholders play in the effort – government, industry and the Australian community – and came following the first ever National Plastics Summit held in March 2020.

According to the plan, 1 million tonnes of Australia’s annual plastic consumption is single-use plastic. The use of plastic is increasing across the world, and will double by 2040, and, by 2050, it is estimated that plastic in the ocean will outweigh fish.

The Australian Food and Grocery Council chief executive Tanya Barden said the group fully backs the plan, and that the issue is one for the entire supply chain to address.

“Food and grocery manufacturers are playing their part in a number of ways. They are currently reviewing their packaging and making changes to ensure it is 100 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable, contains more recycled content, and importantly remains safe for consumers,” Barden said.

The AFGC is working together with food and grocery manufacturers to increase the rate of recycling for plastics such as bread bags, frozen vegetable bags, and confectionary wrappers, and wants to find a way to bring this recycled material back into the manufacturing of new plastics – effectively closing the loop.

“We’re very pleased to see that the Government understands that greater recycled content in packaging requires nationally consistent performance standards for material recovery facilities to deliver clean feedstock for re-manufacturing,” Barden said.

“It is essential that recycled plastics are safe for manufacturers to use with food, beverages and cosmetics, and we look forward to working with other stakeholders to achieve that outcome.”

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