Australian households have thrown out more than 10 per cent more rubbish and recyclables via kerbside bins during the COVID-19 lockdown, amid a spike in supermarket shopping and home deliveries, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.
The Australian Council of Recycling says urgent action is needed to manage the additional volumes of plastic waste generated in the past two months. CEO Pete Shmigel also warns people are throwing the wrong things in kerbside recycling bins – especially soft plastics – leading to unprecedented levels of contamination.
This casts further doubt on Australia’s ability to meet federal and state-agreed national packaging recycling targets by 2025, which were agreed by federal and state governments in 2018. Exceptionally high amounts of soft plastics – such as plastic bags, toilet paper wrapping, food packaging and Australia Post delivery bags – were ending up in kerbside recycling bins, which was spoiling the nation’s good recycling efforts. Australia’s recycling downturn is exacerbated by many cafes not accepting reusable cups.
While we have taken a backwards step during the pandemic, the industry was responding to the challenge. Coca-Cola Amatil now had seven out of 10 bottles made from 100 per cent recycled material, Nestle and IQ Renew had partnered to trial collecting and recycling soft plastics from more than 100,000 homes, while Wanless itself was moving ahead with its innovative resource recovery and recycling precinct at Ebenezer, near Ipswich, Queensland.