Recycling Crisis or Opportunity?

27 April 2018:  Environment groups described today’s Environment Ministers’ meeting as a ‘work in progress’, with Ministers yet to prove that they have adequately responded to the opportunities created by the loss of Chinese markets for our kerbside recycling.


“Cementing and growing our recycling economy will take concrete plans to deliver targets and should certainly not involve incineration of waste. We need a solid commitment to a quantum leap, otherwise we will be dragged backwards and waste an enormous amount of resource while continuing to pollute the environment,” said Jeff Angel, Director of Boomerang Alliance of 47 national, state and local groups.

“Key Commonwealth and state environment ministers must embed higher resource recovery objectives in the economy. Incineration diverts valuable materials from genuine recycling - and uses mixed waste, which poses serious toxic pollution threats. There may be plans for new recycling industry, but by the time they eventuate as actual projects they will find the rush to incineration has locked up their resources.’’

“As for recycled content in products – the voluntary approach is too weak. Mandatory rules, as in Europe, are the only assured way to establish a stable and growing market to justify the investment into new manufacturing. If we can have an enforceable renewable energy target, then we can have a similar system for recycled content. A lot of questions remain to be answered about the 100% recyclable, compostable or reusable target including collection capacity – it’s not just about labels.”

Toby Hutcheon, Boomerang Alliance’s Queensland Manager, said: “The first test for the acceptance of incineration was at last night’s Ipswich community meeting to discuss recent council actions diverting recycling to landfill. There was strong community concern about the concept of so-called waste to energy.”

Boomerang Alliance is also looking to more action on plastic pollution.

“Key actions require Commonwealth action. So far, the load has been taken up by the states – all we have from the federal government is a weak draft threat abatement plan. Plastic pollution of our oceans is a national crisis. As a first step the Commonwealth should pass a law banning microbeads – the current voluntary approach applauded by the ministers today, has too many loopholes and leaves the way open for backsliding,” said Mr Angel.

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  • Malthusista
    commented 2018-06-03 21:40:03 +1000

    Whilst this is a great initiative by all the mainland states of Australia except for Daniel Andrews’ Victoria, a deposit of 10c is nowhere near enough. Back around the middle of the 1960’s, I recall getting 3c or 5c deposit for reach returned soft-drink bottle. 1 I think the deposit for each bottle in 2018 should be at least 50c, given that the Australian dollar has depreciated to roughly 1/10 of its 1966 value. I also think that such an amount would more accurately reflect the actual cost of manufacturing a good quality re-usable beverage container. 2

    The deposit scheme, which allowed myself and other kids to get extra pocket money by collecting discarded soft-drink bottles, came to an end after 1966 or 1967 (from my recollection), when, suddenly, the Coca-Cola corporation stridently announced on a large-scale television promotion that:

    “Hey, do you know that you can now get COKE IN CANS!”

    I somehow doubt that other soft drink consumers shared the excitement of the Coca-Cola Corporation at this new initiative. My own heart sank, seeing an end to my additional earnings from refunded soft-drink bottles. So, instead of beverage containers being returned and reused, they were, from then on, to be added to our landfill, urban environment, parklands, bush and oceans, whilst an ever greater quantity of raw materials were to be extracted from the earth to replace the discarded cans and bottles.


    1 Soft-drinks, which contain sugar, are a major health hazard. They are particularly harmful to diabetics and could cause a non-diabetic to become diabetic. If people drink soft drinks, they should be of a variety which contain no sugar. One product with artificial sweetener and no other additives is Waterfords mineral waters.

    2 Back in the mid-90’s, I think, somebody put forward a proposal in Australia that all beverages be stored in standardised refundable beverage containers. If all beverage producers were able to use the same container to store a given volume of beverage, then the cost of producing that beverage would be substantially reduced. Whilst, by my recollection, this proposal received some prominence in the national newsmedia for a while, it seems to have been quitely dropped and forgotten. I would greatly appreciate if If anyone else could confirm this and other recollections of mine and, possibly, provide greater detail.
  • Anonymous
    commented 2018-04-29 02:08:31 +1000
    Environmental minister took some initiative for the development of the recycling procedure.The will provide the indicators for improving the condition of the environment.Would you please let us know about how the minister could bring the change in the environment.
  • Anonymous
    followed this page 2018-04-29 01:59:25 +1000