Australia’s support for a binding global treaty to address marine plastic pollution is a breakthrough, according to the World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia.
The Ocean Cleanup and Konecranes have chosen MHE-Demag to design, manufacture and service the Ocean Cleanup’s Interceptor to extract plastic from rivers before entering the ocean.
Veolia Australia and New Zealand CEO Richard Kirkman arrived from the UK business in the second half of 2020 following what the company has described as “a difficult year with devastating bushfires in Australia and then the global pandemic.”
CSIRO is co-hosting the 2021 India-Australia Circular Economy Hackathon in collaboration with the Government of India.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has said that the government will create a 2 trillion yen ($19.2 billion) fund to assist ambitious green projects over the next decade as part of additional stimulus measures in response to COVID-19.
Within the last week China has decreed that it will ban all imports of solid waste from January 1 2021 and told restaurants, e-commerce platforms and delivery companies they have to report their use of single-use plastics and also submit formal recycling plans.
China’s Ministry of Commerce said a nationwide system for retailers was to be established to report their plastic consumption. This will be part of a trial to encourage recycling, which will also mean firms will have to submit formal plans for recycling.
Country’s biggest challenge
Plastic pollution has become one of China’s biggest challenges, with vast amounts buried or dumped. The country produced 63 million tonnes of plastic in 2019, with a recycling rate of around 30 per cent. It produces around 20 million tonnes of single-use non-biodegradable material annually, including 3 million tonnes of shopping bags.
In September, the ministry said single-use plastic bags and eating utensils would be banned from major cities by the end of the year, while single-use straws would be banned nationwide.
Dealing with waste
In January this year, China’s National Development and Reform Commission issued new policy to be implemented over the next five years, setting out how to deal with the waste its 1.4 billion citizens create. The country said it would ‘progressively ban or restrict the production, sales and use’ of certain plastics while endorsing ‘degradable, recycle-friendly alternatives’, according to a document published by the Commission.
The Chinese commission also said the restaurant industry must reduce its use of single-use plastic by 30 per cent, and hotels have been told that they must not offer free single-use plastic items by 2025 – it is thought this will include toiletries. In 2008, China banned retailers from giving out free single-use plastic bags, and banned the production of ultra-thin plastic bags.
In 2017, the country announced that it would ban the import of foreign plastic waste in a move that has meant countries across the world have had to seek out alternative destinations for their waste.
Wang Wang, chairman of the China Scrap Plastic Association, said the bans would “only resolve the most visible types of plastic pollution” and were just one part of the country’s efforts to tackle waste, according to Reuters news agency.
From September, China has also prohibited some types of agricultural-use plastic film used to keep crops warm and moist. Chinese farmers use around 1.5 million tonnes a year, but it leaves residues that damage the soil.
A new “solid waste law” also came into effect in September, raising fines tenfold for those who break rules and mandating the construction of new recycling infrastructure.
A reimagined Australasian Waste and Recycling Expo (AWRE) will now run from November 25-26 as an interactive online event. The organisers explained that the shift to digital will still make it accessible to everyone, regardless of geography or social distancing rules.
A new venture formed from Energy Estate and InfraCo to develop and build tyre recycling plants in Australia and New Zealand will use the two technologies of Vertech/RubberJet Valley tyre disintegration and Tyromer rubber devulcanisation. However, the Australian Tyre Recycling Association (ATRA) is doubtful of the efficacy of the business model.
Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans, discussed key environmental issues facing pacific nations at a meeting in Samoa on September 6.