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Think tank proposes $1.5 billion tax on virgin plastics

Think tank the Australia Institute proposes the Federal Government could raise about $1.5 billion annually by imposing a waste tax on virgin or unrecycled plastic packaging.

The think tank – largely staffed and run by former affiliates of the Green Party – noted that Australians consume 3.8 million tonnes of plastic yearly. The figure is expected to increase to 9.7 million tonnes by 2049 to 2050.

Amid the high plastic consumption, only 14 per cent of Australia’s plastic waste is recovered through recycling, composting or being turned into energy, down from 18 per cent in 2008.

Australia Institute suggests the land down under imitate the European Union, which requires its member states to pay €800 (A$1309) per tonne of plastic packaging waste that is not recycled.

“If recycling were the solution to the plastic waste crisis, it would have been solved by now. Instead, it just encourages the production and consumption of even more waste that is choking our landfills and oceans,” said Nina Gbor, a sustainability expert who is circular economy and waste program director at the Australia Institute.

According to the think tank’s survey of 1002 people Australians, 85 per cent support legislated waste reduction targets for producers, suppliers and retailers.

Around 78 per cent said they support a ban on plastics that cannot be recycled in the curbside bin.

“We know that Australians support tougher action to curb plastic waste, and that taxes and schemes requiring producers to fund the collection and recycling of plastic they produce are working overseas.”

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