National plastics summit

Media release

30 December 2019

Australia will hold its first national plastics summit next year to address our growing plastic waste problem.

With New Year’s Eve celebrations destined to generate tonnes more plastic waste in our cities, parks and beaches, and many still cleaning up after boxing day and Christmas, it is time for a national conversation on an issue that is critical for our environment, our oceans, and our marine and birdlife.

The summit will explore new methods of remanufacturing that will create jobs and build a wider understanding about the importance of recycling strategies.

Around 200 leading retailers, industry representatives, State Governments, Local Government Associations, infrastructure companies, researchers and school children will be invited to Canberra in early March to take part in the national summit to address the challenges of plastics and recycling.

Delegates will be invited to showcase solutions, mobilise actions and address the National Waste Policy Action Plan target of phasing out problematic and unnecessary plastics over the next five years (2025).

Consumer and community education will be a key focus, along with the role of school children and young adults in influencing household behaviour, and in highlighting the link between industry action and community interests.

We will be looking for commitments from industry that will create jobs, research opportunities, education initiatives and practical community outcomes.

The Morrison government is investing more than $167 million in our national Recycling Investment Plan, and all Governments have taken a significant step agreeing to ban the export of unprocessed mixed plastic waste from 2021.

As we hit the peak plastic packaging time of the year, now is an opportunity for all Australians to consider the ways we can think about the plastic we use and, importantly recycle. Look for the Australasian recycling label and follow the instructions, consult your local council or look up websites such as Planet Ark’s recyclingnearyou.com.au.

Facts on plastic waste:

  • Plastic production has increased twenty-fold since the 1960s and will double again in the next two decades.
  • Much of the plastic we use is handled just once and thrown away.
  • Plastic does not break down in landfill.
  • Thirteen million tonnes of plastic make its way into the world’s oceans every year.
  • Our marine environment now contains an estimated 150 million tonnes of plastic.
  • By 2050 it is predicted there will be more plastic in our oceans, by weight, than fish.
  • Marine debris impacts industry, shipping, fishing and tourism.
  • In 2008, marine debris was estimated to have directly cost APEC member economies approximately US$1.265 billion.
Minister for the Environment