Young Australians won’t let Scott Morrison forget the importance of recycling plastic.
“There are few issues that are raised more with me by kids, than plastics in the ocean,” the prime minister told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday. “I know mine do, on a daily basis almost.”
Morrison expects children will be glad to know his government is spending $20 million to grow Australia’s recycling industry.
“It’s exciting for our kids, but more importantly it’s exciting for our economy, because it means a cleaner environment and it means more jobs.”
The money will go towards projects designed to help meet the coalition’s promise to ban the export of plastic, paper, glass and tyres.
The prime minister outlined the commitment at the Council of Australian Governments meeting in Cairns last week.
“It’s our waste, that means it’s our responsibility, in terms of how we deal with it,” he said.
Morrison said there was plenty of room for improvement, with Australia only recycling 12 per cent of its plastic at the moment, for example.
“That is a figure we have to change for the future.”
His announcement comes during a recycling crisis in Victoria, sparked by the collapse of major processor SKM, which forced several councils to send material to landfill.
China’s decision last year to ban the importation of foreign waste has also caused recycling woes for Australia.
Australia spent $2.8 billion exporting nearly 4.5 million tonnes of waste last year, with the vast majority of it going to Vietnam, Indonesia and China.
While NSW has the most people, it exported less waste than Victoria and Queensland, and only just more than Western Australia which has about a quarter of the population.
Australian Council of Recycling chief executive Pete Shmigel said the change could create as many as 5,000 new jobs.
But equally important will be encouraging people to buy recycled products.
“It’s one thing to collect things, it’s one thing to put things in your bin, (but) it’s a whole other story to actually go out there and make the roads out of recycled content, make packaging out of recycled content,” he told reporters.
“We need both the supply and the demand, the push and the pull.”