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This is the claim from a joint study recently published by the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures and Asia Pacific Waste Consultants.  Prepared for the Department of Agriculture Water and the Environment, the research team – consisting of Dr Monique Retamal (UTS), Elsa Dominish (UTS) Dr Amardeep Wander (APWC) and Jack Whelan (APWC), found that “plastic waste most commonly leaks into the environment at the country to which it’s shipped. Plastics which are of low value to recyclers, such as lids and polystyrene foam containers, are most likely to end up polluting the environment.”

This is a problem that could be completely circumnavigated with the establishment of mobile pyrolysis plants – with the elimination of both transportation and outsourced processing, we expect to see a drastic reduction in this plastic waste leakage.

The study is a continuation of a project initially commissioned by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, named the Environmentally Responsible Trade in Waste Plastics project, with the research being conducted by the UTS Institute for Sustainable Futures (ISF), Asia Pacific Waste Consultants (APWC) and The Centre for International Economics (CIE) in the first half of 2020.

“We all know it’s wrong to toss your rubbish into the ocean or another natural place. But it might surprise you to learn some plastic waste ends up in the environment, even when we thought it was being recycled.”

“The export of unsorted plastic waste from Australia is being phased out – and this will help address the problem. But there’s a long way to go before our plastic is recycled in a way that does not harm nature.”.
Plastics Pirate and our partners, are working on this way.

Perhaps the catalyst for the current series of events playing out upon the global stage of plastic waste recycling, is the flow on effect of China banning the import of plastic waste for processing in January, 2018 – in an effort to stimulate their own domestic recycling industry.  They recognised the value that can be assigned to plastic waste, and the benefit of investing in, and establishing the technologies that make this kind of end-of-life recycling of plastic waste possible.

“Australia’s waste export ban recently became law. From July this year, only plastics sorted into single resin types can be exported; mixed plastic bales cannot. From July next year, plastics must be sorted, cleaned and turned into flakes or pellets to be exported.”

“This may help address the problem of recyclables becoming marine pollution. But it will require a significant expansion of Australian plastic reprocessing capacity.”

The team at Plastics Pirate is working diligently to provide another avenue – a fresh, new, and undeniably more sustainable direction – for the plastic reprocessing capacity of Australia, and although pretty scary, this kind of research reinforces the direction we are headed with Plastics Pirate, the urgency of these issues, and the importance of the cause as we aim to join the fight and tackle the issues of plastic waste, and a more sustainable world.

If you’d like more information of this topic, the research involved and the team behind it, check out the link below: