Happy Hump Day!
Our enviro update this week: CHINA! Or more specifically, their recycling ban...
As we all know, China has introduced a ban on recyclable material received from Australia
due to extremely high contamination rates. China has been Australia’s largest market for
recycling waste, with 619,000 tonnes sent to China annually, to put this into perspective
this is almost 12 times the weight of the Sydney Harbour Bridge! The recent ban has
created large stockpiles of recyclable materials at Australia’s recycling depots, as the
market deals with this downturn in demand. Materials can still be exported to China if they have a contamination rate less than 0.5% or less. The current global standard for recycling contamination is less than 1.5%, so the ban is affecting the local market especially for materials such as plastics, textiles and mixed paper.
For South Australia, the amount of recovered materials exported is relatively small in
comparison with the amount re‑processed locally, with 87 % of all recovered material
reported reprocessed within South Australia, 8 per cent was processed interstate and
5 per cent was exported overseas.
What does this mean?
Australian is now faced with an issue of recycling materials ending up in landfill. Local councils are struggling to find a financial option for the materials that are no longer being accepted by China, this has already been seen with the publicized Ipswich council in Queensland crumbling under the recycling ban. People are now becoming frustrated that their recycling separation is potentially going to waste.
This ban does have some positive for Australia! It provides opportunities for the domestic market to support recycling and secondary re-manufacturing of materials, supporting a robust, sustainable and cost-effective recycling sector. This would reduce the risks that are associated with selling our materials overseas. Recycling of plastics and materials in Australia is very much still viable, however we may see an increase in pricing of bin lifts and council rates across the country.
What can we do?
As consumers we can all help make a difference! The best way to support is to buy products that are already produced from recycled materials and continue to recycle! Coles is already reducing their plastic manufacturing by 3,000 tonnes a year by making these 100% recycled water bottles, so keep a look out for them on your supermarket shelves! The materials will still be sent to recycling depots although China has implemented strict regulations.
Until next week!