Ninety per cent (90%) of the world’s plastic goes to waste – landfill, or worse, into the environment. This well-known environmental disaster, has a new twist with Australian industry calling for used plastic to be classed as a RESOURCE and not WASTE.
This week, at Plasticity Sydney (a global conference focused on plastic sustainability) businesses called for a broader discussion on used plastic as a resource and identified three key steps: place a value on the material, encourage design-for-recovery, and foster end-markets to create demand.
“Knowing our modern lives depend on plastic, means that we need to reverse the way we view it, and manage it from one life use to the next,” said Mr Doug Woodring, Founder Plasticity Forum and Co-Founder and Managing Director Ocean Recovery Alliance.
“As a sustainability economist and water sports enthusiast, I see and appreciate the value of community programs that target hot spots and drive awareness. Dove-tailed with this, however, we need a broader strategic approach that targets plastics by reuse, brings economies of scale, deliver appropriate pricing mechanisms and create new industries focused on recovered plastic as an input material.”
Ms Trish Hyde, Plasticity Sydney Director added, “there are more than 40,000 types and combinations of plastic that serve valuable purposes from contact lenses to car parts. Australian consumers are championing the reduction in unnecessary packaging and are among the world’s best for kerb-side recycling. Unfortunately, this is the tip of the iceberg. To support community efforts and truly address the 90% plastic waste we need a seismic shift that is created by industry and governments working together.”
“Plasticity Sydney proved that there are many businesses and governments willing to be part of this big conversation to create a sustainable future.”
Mr Woodring added, “conservative estimates value the potential of the Australian recovered plastics market at $3.5B pa, excluding exports. It is the perfect combination, a new industry that benefits the environment and the economy.”
Plasticity Sydney took place on 31 October at the Australian Maritime Museum, Darling Harbour. Special guest was Dr Steve Wong, Founder and Managing Director of Chinese plastic recycling and manufacturing company Fukutomi Company Limited, and President of the Chinese Scrap Plastics Association, addressing the implications of the Chinese Government’s new National Sword policy for Australian recovered plastics market.
Along with government representatives from several jurisdictions, companies in attendance included: Coca-Cola, Cleanaway, Covestro, H&M, Lane Crawford, LyondellBasell, Morgan Stanley, Piper Alderman, Starboard, Suez, UBS Investment Bank, University of Newcastle, University of Technology Sydney, University of New South Wales, Veolia, Woolworths, and Yates.
Leading Australian innovators and entrepreneurs in this field were also in attendance: Circular Economy (plastic traceability using blockchain), Dresden (recyclable and recycled-content eyewear), Integrated Green Energies (low-value plastic waste to road ready fuel), Nev House (recycled-content affordable emergency housing), and Replas (recycled content industrial products).
It was the ninth Plasticity Forum for the Founder of the collaborative movement, Doug Woodring. Previous forums were held in Los Angeles, Dallas, London, Shanghai, New York, Portugal, Hong Kong, and Rio de Janeiro. It is the only global industry collective focused only in plastics sustainability and circular economies.