Australia is a nation of clothes-lovers, so much so, that we are the second highest consumers of clothes (per capita) in the world. The average Australian buys 27kg of clothes every year, but because the stuff we buy often costs so little, we think nothing of chucking it away when we are sick of it. In fact, every 10 minutes, Australians throw out 6000 kg of clothing, making textile waste the fastest growing sector of household waste.
If recycling were a Commonwealth Games sport, Australia would be Trinidad and Tobago. We rank 17 out of the 34 OECD nations in the recycling event, yet we are increasing the amount of waste we generate — up 23 percent between 2006 and 2015. Of course, this is not news to the waste industry. Finding a way to deal with waste is becoming more pressing, as our days of exporting it to other countries are rapidly coming to an end.
Australians are the second-highest producers of waste per person in the world, beaten only by Americans. So it’s good to see our industries taking innovative approaches to finding sustainable waste and recycling solutions in some of our most important waste sectors.
The damaging and long-lasting environmental effects of excessive waste has gained significant awareness in recent years. From re-usable coffee cups to the ban on plastic bags, Australian consumers have been making strides in their efforts to recycle, re-use and better dispose of waste. Our industries are helping this cause too, with a growing list of companies investing in packaging that is sustainable, biodegradable and even compostable!
Progressive councils across Australia were already pushing the boundaries on managing municipal waste even before the China import ban, and since then several exciting new initiatives have been announced.
Plastic has transformed our daily lives in so many ways – from the cars we drive, the computers we use, to the mattresses we lay on. But while plastic was once hailed as revolutionary, today it is a major issue, largely because much is designed to be used only once. These single-use plastics are having a negative effect on the environment, especially within our oceans.
At the end of the day, every retailer and food business has left over food waste that they need to deal with. All of this requires some big money to do so. In some cases, however, it can actually be a business opportunity, especially for retailers and producers who are becoming increasingly aware of their wastage.
Would you drink from a public fountain? It seems most people would rather spend $4 on a bottle of spring water than drink from a community water bubbler due to concerns around health and safety.
In the 20 years between 1996 and 2016, the population of Australia rose by 28 per cent, but its waste production soared up by 170 per cent.
Victoria’s Sunshine Groupe will unveil a global-first artificial intelligence-driven waste sorting system in late July, created by Finland’s ZenRobotics. The system Australia will see is the world’s first 3 gantry ZRR unit, built in Tampere, Finland.