The Faculty of
Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology

15 May 2018

This article was written by Dr Muxina Konarova from the UQ Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology​ for The Conversation.

Australia’s recycling crisis needs us to look into waste management options beyond just recycling and landfilling.

Some of our waste, like paper or organic matter, can be composted. Some, like glass, metal and rigid plastics, can be recycled.

But we have no immediate solution for non-recyclable plastic waste except landfill.

At a meeting last month, federal and state environment ministers endorsed an ambitious target to make all Australian packaging recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025.

But the ministers also showed support for processes to turn our waste into energy, although they did not specifically discuss plastic waste as an energy source.

The 100% goal could easily be achieved if all packaging were made of paper or wood-based materials. But realistically, plastic will continue to dominate our packaging, especially for food, because it is moisture-proof, airtight, and hygienic.

Most rigid plastic products can only be recycled a few times before they lose their original properties and become non-recyclable. Even in European countries with strict waste management strategies, only 31% of plastic waste is recycled.

Read the full article on The Conversation