Summit to call for action on plastics

A summit will call on the government to mandate that all plastic packaging be recyclable by 2025.
A summit will call on the government to mandate that all plastic packaging be recyclable by 2025.

A national plastics summit aimed at reducing pollution will call on the federal government to mandate that 100 per cent of plastic packaging be reusable, compostable or recyclable by 2025.

The one-day summit in Canberra on Monday, and hosted by federal Environmental Minister Sussan Ley, will bring together 200 attendees from government, industry and community sectors.

In a joint statement, the Boomerang Alliance and the World Wide Fund Australia says plastic enters Australian oceans at a rate of 130,000 tonnes a year.

But with plastic recycling rates only reaching nine per cent, they say the federal and state governments must intervene where the market has failed.

"There are alternatives to plastic packaging, but they won't be adopted unless governments take the lead," WWF-Australia's Katinka Day said in a statement.

She says the federal government should use the summit to mandate that 100 per cent of plastic packaging will be reusable, compostable or recyclable by 2025.

Local Government NSW president Linda Scott says Australians need to see more action from state and federal governments to reduce waste and its costs to communities to create a more sustainable future.

"Councils and communities are passionate about doing their bit, but they're at the end of the waste supply chain, and local government kerbside recycling programs are only a small part of the solution," she said in a statement.

She said the NSW state government must act to ban single use plastic bags and reinvest the NSW waste levy - nearly $800 million a year - into funding councils to save recycling.

The Australian Council of Recycling said the summit is an opportunity for real action rather than just rhetoric.

"A summit that puts substance before stylistics is what we need to deal with the plastics problem," the council's CEO Peter Shmigel, who will chair one of the summit's sessions, said.

He said while banning some types of plastic products is understandable, such as single use imported items, many serve very positive purposes.

"Therefore, we need to get smarter with the plastic we do use, especially ensuring its recyclability and that plastic products are made with lower-emissions, domestically sourced recycled resin ASAP," he said.

Australian Associated Press