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Australia Releases National Plastics Plan

Skyline of Sydney, Australia

The Australian Government has released a plan to reduce plastic waste. Currently, 2.5 million metric tons of plastic waste is generated in Australia each year, with 13% of that recovered. The National Plastics Plan establishes benchmarks to increase plastic recycling, in addition to announcing other interventions across the entire life-cycle of plastics.

The Plan notes that Australia is taking responsibility for its plastic waste and that, under the Recycling and Waste Reduction Act of 2020, the export of unsorted mixed plastics is banned as of July 2021.  Additional measures include a phase-out of non-compostable plastic packaging containing additive fragmentable technology that does not meet relevant compostable standards by July 2022, and of polyvinyl chloride packaging labels and expanded polystyrene in consumer food and beverage containers by December 2022.

Under the Plan, industry is to deliver four National Packaging Targets by 2025. These are:

  • 100% of packaging is reusable, recyclable, or compostable,
  • 70% of plastic packaging goes to be recycled or composted,
  • 50% average recycled content within packaging (20% for plastic packaging), and
  • Phase-out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging.

The Plan also states that the Australian Government will fast-track the rollout to the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) so that at least 80% of supermarket products will display the ARL (including recycled content) by December 2023.