Recycling is not enough

Plastic washed up on remote beach in the Indian Ocean. Photo by Janene Trickey.
Plastic washed up on remote beach in the Indian Ocean. Photo by Janene Trickey.

Australians are pretty good recyclers, with over 1000 kilograms of materials recycled per person every year, which is over 50 per cent of waste generated. But with a growing population and the closure of many older landfill sites, governments are striving to find better, more sustainable ways to deal with waste.

Sustainability Victoria CEO Stan Krpan recently launched the Statewide Waste and Resource Recovery Infrastructure Plan (SWRRIP), which is designed to assist local government and industry deliver the right waste infrastructure in each region of Victoria.

“Over 12 million tonnes of solid waste is generated in Victoria every year and this will grow over the next 30 years to more than 20 million tonnes. We will continue our focus on waste reduction, improved recycling, delivering education strategies and improving recovery of organic material over the next few years”, Stan said.

New Yorker Lauren Singer has a blog, Trash is For Tossers, which documents how she lives a zero-waste life. She began by identifying that three kinds of waste made up 90 per cent of what she was throwing out. She started composting and recycling what she could and realised most of the rest was plastic packaging. Lauren now makes many of her own products and buys fresh, whole food in bulk and at farmers markets. Watch her TED Talk below.


Plastic-free July founder Rebecca Prince-Ruiz hopes to raise awareness of the impact of increasing amounts of plastic in the environment and challenges people to refuse all single-use plastic for the month of July. The initiative started in Perth in 2011 and has grown to involve thousands of people from more than 70 countries.

“Whilst the challenge may seem daunting, there are some really simple ways to cut down on plastic. This includes using reusable containers, saying no to straws and carrying reusable shopping bags”, Rebecca said.

A quote from the Plastic-free July website sums the issue up perfectly: “Think about it…why would you make something that you are going to use for a few minutes out of a material that’s basically going to last forever. What’s up with that?”  – Jeb Berrier, BagIt movie.

Re-use in action in the garden. Cartoon by Penne Gillies.
Re-use in action in the garden. Cartoon by Penne Gillies.

Read more about the consumerism and waste issue or our tops tips for watching your own waste.

 

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