Responding to the waste crisis

More than 40% of all waste is reportedly sent straight to landfills, including 84% of all plastic waste. - Photo:canva.comMore than 40% of all waste is reportedly sent straight to landfills, including 84% of all plastic waste. - Photo:canva.com

Catholic Religious Australia (CRA) has submitted to the Australian Government Senate Inquiry Waste reduction and recycling policies, in which they made several suggestions for policy change to address the deepening waste crisis.

The scale of waste production and aspects of current solutions have implications for the health of Australians and the whole ecology, are linked to climate change and impact people in developing nations that continue to receive our waste. 

CRA urges measures to slow production and consumption and supports the repair and re-use of products through legislative measures as part of a broader approach to developing a circular economy that is not limited to a focus on waste and recycling. A circular economy also prioritises longer-lasting design over a throw-away culture and considers social and environmental factors not merely economic ones. 

Alarmingly, as noted by CRA, the National Waste Report 2020 reveals that Australia’s waste continues to increase yearly including a doubling of the amount of plastic consumed in Australia since the year 2000. “More than 40% of all waste is reportedly sent straight to landfills, including 84% of all plastic waste. Of the 60% of all waste that avoids landfill, a significant amount has been found to sit in stockpiles.”[1] Other concerns include pollution from microplastics shed during recycling processes and the uptake of toxic chemicals into new plastic products. CRA President, Peter Jones OSA says “It is impossible to recycle our way to zero waste, as most materials will degrade into less and less recyclable material over time, with recycled plastic continuously shedding pollutant microplastics and toxic chemicals.”[2]

CRA says anyone can support the principles of a circular economy through actions such as avoiding single-use plastics, purchasing second-hand items, repairing where possible and making longer-lasting purchases.  

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