With the widespread use of plastics for the packaging of goods, the need to recycle these materials is more crucial than ever. In Australia alone, we produce over 1.3 million tonnes of plastic per year, with an estimated 46% being recycled, according to Clean Up,. The sheer amount of plastics ending up in landfills or polluting our oceans has inspired various initiatives and movements to increase the overall recycling level around the world.
In Norway, a system has been implemented on a national scale to raise the participation of citizens with recycling their plastic bottles after use.
Norsk Resirk, a company in Norway, have led a movement that encourages the widespread recycling of all plastic bottles and tin cans, inspiring a high level of participation from the Norwegian people. This program is modelled off the glass bottle system used in Europe, which was converted by the Norwegian government after plastic became the primary choice of packaging for manufacturers.
Since the implementation of this program, led by the industry, recycling of plastic bottles in Norway have increased to 97%. How have the Norwegian government and Norsk Resirk inspired such motivation from the people? Well a small tax has been placed upon all products that are packaged in plastic bottles or tins in Norway. This tax is relatively small, which is refunded to consumers upon the return of plastic bottles to supermarkets, where the materials are sent to recycling plants.
This system has been so effective, it has prompted the government in the United Kingdom to send several advisors to Norway, to properly assess the benefits and effectiveness of this recycling system. Currently, according to Independent, the rate of recycling plastic materials in the United Kingdom is just over 50%. The decision of the Chinese government to essentially ban the importation of plastics, through the introduction of prohibiting any waste that exceeds 0.5 contamination level highlights the dire need for a new system to be introduced in Australia.
The important question, however, is whether this system would be beneficial in other countries, such as Australia?
With a new system implemented for Australia, it would ease the demand for the exportation to foreign countries for recycling, unflooding the market after the decision by China to man importations of contaminated waste and lowering the high level of plastics in landfills. Additionally, a system of recycling plastic based on the potential financial incentives of returning plastic bottles after their use, would inspire higher levels of recycling among the population.
What do you think? Would the Australian people better understand the need for recycling and be more willing to participate in environmental efforts if there was a small financial incentive? Let us know below.
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