CHEMISTRY Australia has established Plastics Stewardship Australia to promote the sustainable use and recovery of plastics, in a move that has been welcomed by The Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Plastics Stewardship Australia represents members from the plastics raw material industry and supply chain.

ACCI chief economist Ross Lambie said the business-led initiative showed industry’s commitment to reduce and manage Australia’s plastic waste and invest in the burgeoning circular economy.

“There is growing interest in Australia and internationally in the circular economy as a means to deal with issues relating to natural resource depletion, environmental degradation and waste management.

“For the last few months ACCI has been advocating for government and industry bodies to explore this exciting new economy, to use natural resources more efficiently, remove unnecessary waste from circulation and encourage sustainability.”

Dr Lambie said reduction in consumption of plastics is a “complex problem” that requires innovative solutions to change the way we use plastics and dispose of them.

“The establishment of Plastics Stewardship Australia will help better co-ordinate government and industry action on more effective ways to re-use and recycle plastic products at their end-of-life, preventing plastic reaching our waterways and other harm to the environment.”

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Plastics Stewardship Australia has pledged to provide assistance to designers and manufacturers to achieve United Nations Sustainability Goals, support the increased recovery of plastic products at end of life, and strengthen the uptake of Operation Clean Sweep® to prevent plastic pellet loss.

Plastics Stewardship Australia will also launch a new website, bringing together a number of resources to support the responsible use, recovery and reuse of plastic products.

Dr Lambie said the ban on export of waste plastics, paper, glass and tyres has increased the urgency to develop recycling capacity in Australia, and for further R&D into the more efficient use of waste materials and the market development for recycled materials.

He said there needs to be action around policies that increase competition in existing markets, create competitive new markets and provide incentives for business to innovate and invest in new technologies.

“We should be focusing on industry-led solutions, such as those proposed by Plastics Stewardship Australia, with government creating the right enabling environment for private investment.

“ACCI has also been advocating for the government to task the Productivity Commission to undertake a review of the potential economic benefits of the circular economy to Australia – such a move would help accelerate our country’s shift to this new model,” Dr Lambie said.

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