Australia is banning ‘biodegradable’ plastic

by Team Conscious Carma

Australia’s federal government has launched its National Plastics Plan to fight plastic on various fronts, such as banning plastic on beaches, ending polystyrene packaging for the takeaway container, phasing microplastic filters in washing machines and banning the main form of biodegradable plastic. 

The plan mentioned that the government will work with industry to fast-track the phasing out of plastic packaging products that do not meet relevant compostable standards and expanded polystyrene (EPS) in consumer packaging by July 2022, while EPS in food & beverage containers and PVC packaging labels by December 2022.  Industry to transition towards 100% packaging being reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025. 

Many biodegradable plastics are just regular fossil-based plastic with chemicals added to make it break down faster and pollute the environment with microplastics. Also, some biodegradable plastics are made from plant-based plastics that are not suitable for home composting as they require precise conditions to break down.

Plastic packaging represents approximately one million tonnes of Australia’s annual plastic consumption. In 2018-19 about 85% of plastics no longer used were disposed to landfill. This has resulted in at least 50 megatonnes of plastic accumulating in Australian landfills.

The simplest way to reduce plastic waste is to avoid unnecessary and problematic plastics. Improving product design is the most effective way to reduce the amount of plastic waste we create.

The government will also be holding a  Plastics Design Summit in 2021 for product designers and manufacturers to showcase their sustainable product design.

It is also regulating waste plastic exports by banning the export of unsorted mixed plastic from 1 July 2021 and unprocessed single polymer or resin plastics from 1 July 2022.

Facts about plastics

Australia uses around 70 billion pieces of soft “scrunchable” plastics including food wrappers each year.

  • Australians used 3.4 million tonnes of plastics in 2018-2019.
  • One million tonnes of Australia’s annual plastic consumption is single-use plastic 84% of plastic is sent to landfill and only 13% is recycled.
  • Every year in Australia approximately 130,000 tonnes of plastic leaks into the marine environment.
  • Our use of plastic is increasing and across the world will double by 2040.
  • By 2050, it is estimated that plastic in the oceans will outweigh fish.


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