The amount of plastics sent to landfill from Aussie households could be slashed after a landmark announcement outlined major changes coming to the recycling industry.
In a joint $11 million commitment, the federal and NSW Labor governments say they will create almost 100 jobs and improve recycling infrastructure across metropolitan and regional NSW with nine recycling projects benefiting from the funding.
"The projects boost NSW’s ability to remanufacture plastic, paper, cardboard and tyres and will increase waste processing capacity by more than 20,000 tonnes each year," a statement from the two governments said.
"All Australian Environment Ministers have committed to working with industry to design out waste and pollution, keep materials in use, and foster markets for a circular economy by 2030."
The investment will see nine companies provide:
An increased capacity to receive waste plastics
New machinery to appropriately break down plastics to then be repurposed
Infrastructure to meet the demand for recycled rubber from tyres
Funding to explore new avenues to reuse and repurpose single-use cardboard and foam waste.
When and where can I recycle soft plastics?
The announcement comes as the federal government also revealed a $60 million investment into tackling hard-to-recycle plastics, namely soft plastics following the collapse of the RedCycle scheme, which operated nationally at Coles and Woolworths supermarkets, last year.
The Labor government faced criticism in the wake of the collapse, with suggestion it acted too slowly to provide an alternative. On Tuesday as she announced the investment, Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek admitted "we can do better".
One of the major investments will be in de-contamination technology, which will improve machinery's ability to sort which items can or cannot be recycled.
It is unclear whether such technology will be used for soft plastics, however the federal government has previously provided funding to the National Plastics Recycling Scheme's trial for soft plastics to be collected kerbside from Australian households.
The Soft Plastics Taskforce, made up of major supermarkets Coles, Woolworths and Aldi, earlier this year said it planned on reintroducing in-store soft plastic collection by the end of 2023.
The funding will also support projects that will explore returning soft plastics to oil for re-use in food-grade packaging. The RedCycle scheme previously used the recycled plastic for items such as benches and tables.
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