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Recycling a Hole in the Ground - Australia's New Waste Recovery Efforts

Recycling a Hole in the Ground - Australia's New Waste Recovery Efforts
By Simon Williams
August 30, 2019

As we enter a new dawn where waste reduction is the concern of all individuals, our elected leaders have a part to play in making this a priority. Large companies and manufacturers have already started to build the framework that supports the hierarchy of reducing, reuse and recycle. Now we look to our federal and local members.

Let’s recap, what really does get recycled?

So you waved farewell to the big truck taking away your recycling, thinking you are saving the planet. Unfortunately, this is not so, with Australia’s recycling industry not living up to your expectations. As with everything, there are some highlights, with over 90% of metals recycled and old metals becoming valuable when melted down and rolled out as new metals. Currently, 57% of glass is recycled but that figure is set to drop as recycled glass is outperformed by cheaper glass imports. Leaving us with plastic, which continues to mount as only 12% is being recycled annually. The shocking part? These dismal stats were before China decided to let Australia look after its own rubbish.

Politicians and landfill

The Australian recycling industry is not currently resourced to carry out the large scale recycling of the 2,700 kilograms of waste per capita generated annually in Australia. The reliance on other countries to manage our waste has prevented the development of the necessary infrastructure and competitive businesses here at home. At the moment, with recycling firms failing, it looks like a lot more recyclable product will be ending up in landfills. This is where politicians on both sides of politics, at all levels of government, can actually make a difference.

What needs to be done:


  • Put in place practical support and protection to foster the development of specialist recycling firms

  • Direct and maximise government procurement towards goods and services that demonstrate high levels of recycled materials

  • Fund and promote more community and local based recycling initiatives, particularly those focused on plastics

If these requirements seem too large or obtrusive that you do not believe you will see it in your lifetime, look to the countries that have established recycling infrastructure that are effectively reducing their footprint. It is possible, and it has been done before. So why not Australia?

What can you do?

Every time you put your recycling bin out for collection you can choose a politician to contact and ask them what they are doing about recycling and you can encourage them to do more. If you do that for a whole year then 26 public figures will know you care. If we all do that for a year then all the politicians in Australia will know exactly what their top priority needs to be. At a more organised level, our communities can keep the discussion of recycling going and on all agendas. Politicians need to be elected, and by demonstrating what our societal priorities are, they have to listen and enact some change if they hope to represent the people of Australia.

CartridgesDirect stands behind those entities doing their bit in the fight against waste. Every product we sell already has a manufacturer subsidised recycling program in place and we actively support its use as the way to dispose of used products and packaging. As export agreements change and landfill dependence grow, it’s a national responsibility that should be addressed by Australia’s politicians and by you, the people.