Only 56% of the Australia’s packaging waste is being recovered, according to the first comprehensive study to track the fate of used packaging materials.
Conducted in a partnership between the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) and University of Technology Sydney, the study shows that only 32% of plastic packaging was recovered for recycling, whereas the figure for paper and cardboard recorded 72%.
Packaging materials such as glass, paper, metal and plastic make up 15% of all recyclable waste generated in Australia.
UTS says the snapshot of the current performance will assist in informing new policy approaches, and can identify which areas are most in need of attention to achieve the formation of a circular economy.
Waste exported overseas represents a significant proportion – about 34% – of total packaging waste recovered.
“Evidently, there is a clear opportunity to improve local waste management practices and grow local demand for products that contain recycled materials. This would help make Australia’s packaging system more resilient to fluctuations in global markets,” Ben Madden, Senior Research Consultant at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney said.
The Packaging Materials Flow Analysis study can be found here