Unprocessed glass will be banned from export from 1 January 2021, followed by mixed plastics, whole used tyres, single resin/polymer plastics, and mixed and unsorted paper and cardboard.
So, how can engineers address this issue and stop Australia from drowning in recyclable waste?
The construction industry provides one avenue for innovative waste solutions. Geofabrics Australasia, an Australian manufacturer and distributor of geosynthetics for the building and infrastructure sectors, incorporates recycled polymers in a number of its products.
This includes in its geotextiles, which are permeable materials typically used for filtration and separation, for example to prevent soil erosion or moisture loss.
“Early in 2020, we brought to market a geotextile, for the first time in Australia, that includes Australian recycled plastics,” said Dennis Grech, CEO and Managing Director of Geofabrics.
“We feel a real obligation as a business to innovate at reducing waste to landfill and eliminating plastic waste going into our waterways.”
The company also recently signed a long-term supply agreement with packaging company Visy.
“Visy uses food-grade recycled PET in the manufacture of its plastic bottles,” Grech explained.
“The partnership between us and Visy is such that where the recycled PET is not fit for bottles, Geofabrics purchases that recycled PET to use in manufacturing our geotextile.”
Geofabrics also produces paving fabric and pipe products made from recycled materials.
“A number of customers, including government infrastructure projects and large contractors, are opting for the green product range, which is really pleasing,” Grech said.
“We are seeing an increasing momentum in Australia for infrastructure projects to incorporate sustainable materials … I also think there is a need for industry and government to come together to create an environment that promotes the use of recycled content.
“Government has a role to play, to encourage and indeed support Australian companies that innovate in the use of Australian recycled material.”