Australia's Plastic Waste: No Longer on a Slow Boat to China

Posted on: 11 December 2018

If you've ever looked at a product and seen a "Made in China" label or sticker, something might not have occurred to you. Sure, the product in question might have been made in China, but it might have been made from recycled plastic that you, someone you know or at least someone in Australia once discarded. This is no longer the case. China used to import a staggering two-thirds of the world's discarded plastic, where it was recycled and made into new goods.

Australia alone sent more than 600,000 tonnes of plastic to China each year. Not all types of plastic have been banned, but 24 different varieties are no longer accepted by China in order to curtail pollution. Supply might have been exceeding demand. Countries around the world are having to deal with the closure of the main destination for their unwanted plastic, and Australia is no exception. So how can you be sure that your discarded plastic will be recycled?

Local Councils

It's perhaps the plastic that goes into your household recycling wheelie bin that has the biggest question mark. This was sorted by council workers and then sent to a treatment plant where it would be cleaned and put on a ship to China. Hopefully, local councils will not become so stretched that this plastic then regularly ends up in landfills, but alternative destinations for plastic are being sought. This could include alternative countries which will begin to accept more plastic as their own recycling infrastructure is developed, but there are other options which are closer to home.

  • There are plans to make roads (and other resources) from recycled plastic.
  • There's even a scheme being investigated to begin burning Australia's rubbish (recyclable or not) in order to produce electricity.

Professional Removal

A professional rubbish removal company will generally utilise different resources than your local council when it comes to recyclable materials, and when you have a major cleaning or renovation project, this is your best bet in terms of ease, and also to ensure that anything recyclable will not simply be thrown away. You can still feel free to ask them additional questions if you have any concerns, namely what will happen to your recyclable plastic waste. Some companies might be stockpiling plastic waste at various storage facilities, allowing for it to be recycled at a later stage when a suitable destination has been found. There are plastic recycling facilities in Australia, and some companies might already have arrangements for their waste to be sent there.

The prospect of simply allowing recyclable plastic to accumulate can be disheartening, and while China might not want it anymore, this doesn't mean that the plastic you no longer need will have to go to waste.