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Strengthening the Australian plastics circular economy and emissions reduction - 20 May 2021

Statement attributable to Chemistry Australia CEO Samantha Read:

Chemistry Australia and its members welcome public discourse about advancing a plastics circular economy in Australia to reduce plastic waste and reduce emissions.

Our Association and members maintain the view that plastic waste does not belong in our oceans, that solutions exist to prevent plastic waste ending up in our environment and that the efficient use of plastics has a key role in emissions reduction.

Plastic is a dynamic and valuable resource, which has a lower net environmental impact than many alternative materials.  Analysis by the environmental firm Trucost found that replacing plastic in consumer packaging and products with common alternatives would increase environmental costs nearly four times. And a separate study found that switching from plastic packaging to many alternatives would increase the amount of packaging generated annually in the US by 55 million tons and greenhouse gas emissions by 130 per cent.

Chemistry Australia and its Plastics Stewardship Australia initiative support the principles of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. This wholistic, science-based approach recognises the balance needed for the use of plastics and other materials to achieve net zero emissions and other key targets.

Australian industry and governments have confirmed a comprehensive range of policy settings via the National Waste Policy Action Plan and more recently the National Plastics Plan to support the investments needed to create a more circular economy.  Chemistry Australia maintains its support for these considered and collaborative action pathways.

Innovative product design, reducing plastic waste at its source, increasing re-use models and the better management of plastic products at their end-of-life all play a role in using plastics more sustainably.   Further measures include consumer education and increasing end-market demand, increasing the amount of plastics recovered and recycled through the circular economy, as well as new technologies to achieve higher recycled content.

Australian polymer manufacturing, product manufacturing, recycling and reprocessing are at the heart of the industrial scale capability needed to deliver the investment, technology and know-how required to strengthen a more circular system.

Chemistry Australia proudly supports the CSIRO Ending Plastic Waste mission, which aims to use science and technology to develop solutions that prevent waste entering the environment, and transform the way Australia uses, re-uses and recycles plastics at their end of life.

Chemistry Australia also works closely with Tangaroa Blue and Operation Clean Sweep® to prevent plastic pellet loss into the environment, with the goal of achieving zero pellet, recyclate, chip, powder and flake loss through engagement with the plastics value-chain.

The Australian chemistry industry maintains its commitment to contributing the sector’s knowledge in polymer technology and innovation to advance much-needed solutions that maximise the potential of Australia’s valuable plastic resources while delivering a high quality of life, a clean environment and lower emissions.


Media contacts:

Shayna Welsh – [email protected] or 0448 660 443

Chemistry Australia is the pre-eminent national body representing the Australian chemistry industry, one of the largest manufacturing sectors in the country. The industry supports more than 212,000 full time jobs and contributes more than $38 billion to Australia’s GDP. Members of Chemistry Australia are positioned across the entire value chain including manufacturers, importers and distributors, logistics and supply chain partners, raw material suppliers, fabricators, compounders, recyclers, research, academia and service providers to the industry. These businesses range from small family-owned companies to leading national and multinational enterprises.


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