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National Plastics Plan 2021

  • Published on March 6, 2023

The objective of the National Plastics Plan 2021 is to encourage sustainable production and consumption of plastics. Actions include phasing out problematic and unnecessary plastics, improving product design and labelling, expanding recycling capacity, stimulating demand for recycled content, and preventing plastics from leaking into the environment.

The National Plastics Plan sets out Australia’s goals and actions to reduce the negative impacts of plastics on the environment, and includes actions specific to plastic production, consumption habits, and end-of-life processing such as recycling. The Plan operates alongside the National Waste Policy Action Plan which details broader actions on sustainable consumption and waste management, and provides recommended actions for plastics management in particular. As plastic is one of the most widely-used materials in Australia, this Plan is a significant step towards responsible management of resources.

Noting that the problem of plastics is multifaceted, the National Plastics Plan addresses issues of design, use, recovery and reuse of plastics, addressing issues across the entire plastic life-cycle. Actions include working directly with industry, phasing out harmful plastics and additives, strategic investment in plastic recycling technology and capacity, research into new forms of recycling and reprocessing, and a community education program to help citizens consume and dispose of plastic sustainably.

Australia has already legislated world-leading controls on waste exports to ensure sustainable management of all kinds of waste, which also enables capacity-building in areas of recycling through the Recycling Modernisation Fund, further supported by the Modern Manufacturing Strategy. The Australian Government supports industry-led product stewardship schemes because industry is best placed to ensure sustainable material production and end-of-life management systems are in place. To drive further industry action, the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) has set new industry targets for average recycled content in plastic packaging. The plan further incentivises industry-led product sustainability with the National Product Stewardship Investment Fund, establishing new plastics product stewardship schemes and expanding existing schemes. These targets provide concrete aims for industry and households to ultimately contribute to a national circular economy where plastics are sustainably produced, consumed, disposed of, or recycled.

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