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Greens NSW Policy Initiative: Solving the soft plastics crisis

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Amanda Cohn
NSW Greens MP
4 March 2023

The Greens have a plan to sustainably recycle soft plastics in NSW. The collapse of RedCycle and the discovery of millions of tonnes of stockpiled soft plastics has revealed a deeply broken plastics recycling system. It costs producers more to recycle soft plastics than to throw them away, so most soft plastics still end up in landfill, or, even worse, in our waterways and oceans.

This soft plastics crisis is a result of decades of policy failure by the Liberal-National Government. They’ve made households responsible for waste and let manufacturers off the hook, while ignoring the government's role in mandating ambitious reuse targets. Without creating a demand for recycled soft plastics through mandated reuse targets in plastic products, as well as things like building materials, roads and paths, and street furniture, soft plastics recycling schemes will never be viable. The Greens have a plan to make soft plastic recycling convenient and cost-effective by bringing together both ends of the waste cycle - manufacturers and end users. We will create a ‘Plastics Reduction Taskforce’, phase-out soft plastics, and dedicate 100% of the Waste Levy towards reducing waste, with $100 million per year from the Levy directed to establishing sustainable soft plastics recycling schemes in NSW. Our plan will create a real closed-loop system.

THE GREENS WILL:

▲Immediately redirect the entirety of the more than $800 million per annum waste levy towards dealing with the waste crisis

▲Dedicate $100 million from the Waste Levy towards establishing soft plastics recycling schemes.

▲Immediately establish a ‘Plastics Crisis Taskforce’ to develop a s soft plastics recycling strategy

▲Mandate procurement targets for recycled plastic content in single use plastics as well as products like roads and pathways, railway bollards and street furniture.

▲Expand the trial of curbside soft plastics recycling to Sydney.

▲Support and invest in small businesses with existing soft plastics recycling schemes to scale up.

 

DIRECT THE WASTE LEVY TOWARDS THE WASTE CRISIS

The NSW Govt currently collects more than $800 million from the Waste Levy each year. Most of that money is not used for waste reduction.The Greens will dedicate 100% of the waste levy towards resolving the waste crisis, with $100 million of the levy used to enact the recommendations of the Plastics Taskforceto kick-start commercial scale collection, recycling and reuse of soft plastics, and assist the development of innovative technologies. The Greens will also use a portion of the Waste Levy to support and invest in small businesses with existing soft plastics recycling schemes to scale up.

MANDATE PROCUREMENT TARGETS FOR RECYCLED SOFT PLASTIC

In conjunction with the Taskforce, The Greens will set ambitious mandatory procurement targets for industry, manufacturers, and local and state governments. Targeting both producers and end-users will ensure the use of recycled content and create a market that favours recycled over raw materials, removing the need to stockpile and preventing increased costs for households.

ESTABLISH A ‘PLASTICS REDUCTION TASKFORCE’

NSW needs a long term plan to solve its soft plastics crisis. The Greens will create a ‘NSW Plastics Taskforce’ to develop a plan for recycling and phasing out soft plastics in NSW. The Taskforce will bring together manufacturers, retailers, Local Government, waste collectors and recyclers, industry and end-users to ensure that the plan developed is viable into the future and provides the certainty needed to secure investment and transition.

EXPAND THE KERBSIDE SOFT PLASTICS TRIAL

Kerbside soft plastics recycling is already being trialled in Victoria, South Australia and parts of NSW. We know that the best way to make recycling work is to make it convenient. The Greens will expand kerbside recycling, which already has high levels of soft plastic contamination, to include soft plastics.

FIND ALL OUR POLICIES: greens.org.au/platform

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Amanda Cohn
NSW Greens MP
4 March 2023
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