Packaging recycling on track to meet targets

Tuesday, 08 July, 2008

The Australian Food and Grocery Council has advised the Senate Inquiry into the Management of  Australia’s Waste Streams and the Drink Container Recycling Bill 2008 that there is no crisis in packaging waste and that Australia was progressing well towards recycling targets set by government.

AFGC director of sustainable development Tony Mahar said that industry was tracking well  towards the 2010 recycling rate target of 65% for packaging waste that was established by government in 2005.

In its presentation to the Senate Inquiry, the AFGC highlighted the success of kerbside recycling systems across Australia and the need to ensure their ongoing viability.

“With state and local governments and industry working together through the National Packaging Covenant, we have established robust, cost-effective and convenient systems for the community that are now servicing 95% of Australian households and costing around $1 per household per week," Maher said.

“No-one can be sure of the impact the introduction of a container deposit system would have on our kerbside recycling systems but it is not complementary and therefore likely to increase costs to local government and the community.

“Instead of one system, we would have two systems competing for materials, and that will come at a higher cost to all Australians."

The AFGC presented data that showed that the container deposit system in South Australia was only collecting 20% of total packaging waste and that overall packaging recovery was less than that achieved in other states.

Mahar said that kerbside recycling was introduced into South Australia many years after the container deposit system was introduced because there was a range of non-beverage packaging and paper that was not being recycled.

“When you look at comparisons between South Australia and a state like Victoria, Victorians are recycling 24 kg more packaging per person than South Australians,” Maher said.

The AFGC confirmed its support for holistic approaches which address the whole packaging waste stream, not just the 3% that is beverage containers.

“It is not just industry that is concerned at the potential impact of a container deposit system; local governments and the waste management industry including Brisbane City Council, the Municipal Association of Victoria and Thiess Services in NSW are urging caution,” Mahar said.


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