Asia Minute: Australia’s Recycling Shift

Aug 16, 2019

One of the world’s most ambitious recycling programs is getting underway in Australia. A new government policy aims to cut the export of plastic waste and at the same time boost local business.

Australia’s government wants to ban the export of waste.

Last year, the country sent about 4.5 million tons of trash overseas – with a lot of it going to Indonesia and Vietnam.

The way of dealing with this whole part of life shifted dramatically for Australia and for the rest of the world early last year, when China stopped taking shipments of most plastic and recyclable waste.

Last week, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison met with state and territorial leaders from across Australia, and announced the government would phase in a ban on shipping recyclable waste to other destinations.

He said, “there will be no export of plastics and paper and glass to other countries where it runs the risk of floating around in our oceans.”

It’s the same story with tires.

Part of the policy is to develop Australia’s domestic recycling industry. And this week, the government announced plans to put more than 13.5 million U.S dollars into a national recycling program. 

Earlier this month, the state of Victoria was plunged into a recycling crisis — with the liquidation of a failed recycling company, SKM. As a result, officials in Australia’s most densely populated state and home to the city of Melbourne have been forced to send thousands of tons of recyclable trash to landfills.