Wasted Space: Infrastructure lag an issue

Evening Sir, They’re going all soft down here at the moment, sir. No, not talking about those underarm cricketers or the bring-back-the-biff braggards making a noise from that ‘other’ oval-shaped game of football. I’m talking soft plastics. Seems all the rage down here. Where it comes from. How to dispose of it. How to make it more compostable. 

Nobody likes it but it’s not going anywhere either. Bit like Boris, bless him. So what to do, oh what to do. One thing I like about our antipodean friends is that they like nothing but a good problem to solve. Think of them like Q, but on steroids. 

However, there are more organisations than there are blowhards at an Elvis impersonation conference when it comes to those wanting to have a say on how these troublesome plastics should be disposed of, recycled or reused.

You can turn them back into almost their original form – oil. You can reprocess them and turn them into road bollards, or bench seats, or even planks to redo your decking. However, like M in front of the Minister of Finance talking budgets, it’s all about the money. And infrastructure.

Having been sent to Coventry assigned here for a couple of years now, I note that the many layers of government are rarely on the same page. As you know, not only is their Federal Government bicameral, but so are their state governments. It is somewhat amazing that during the odd visit to my local council’s ‘debating’ chamber they too don’t have two houses of legislature. What this means, obviously, is a lot of red tape. Screeds of it. I have a little chuckle to myself that the metaphorical description of what is holding them back is also literally what they are trying to get rid of.

As one champion of the cause explained to me at the recent 2022 Waste soiree in Coffs Harbour, there has been an infrastructure lag. It tickles my funny bone that the word used to describe the lack of infrastructure is the colloquial term used by the less fortunate classes in our green and pleasant land when they are serving at Her Majesty’s Pleasure. Locked up or locked out, the end result is the same – nothing getting done.

I’m unsure whether it is due to an election year, but, ahem, or by pure coincidence, the Federal Government of the Commonwealth of Australia is coughing up hundreds of millions of dollars to deal with the country’s infrastructure needs, including those in the waste industry. There has yet to be a mad dash for moolah like you’d see at a sweet scramble at a children’s birthday party, but it might not be enough. For example, a waste-to-energy project – which can dispose of the residual waste from soft plastics – will require an injection of funds from state and federal governments and can easily soak up 10s if not 100s of millions of dollars. I won’t even go into the approvals process. I will be watching with interest to see how it all pans out. Until then, sir, I bid you farewell.