National plastics summit outcomes
Our Director, UNSW Professor Veena Sahajwalla, today participated as one of 200 invited guests to the first Federal Government sponsored National Plastics Summit.
Veena and her Microfactorie recycling technology that can transform waste items like plastic into new products and materials were featured in the introduction for the launch today at Parliament House and hosted by Environment Minister Sussan Ley.
Caption: Veena and Minister Ley at the Summit today
The Summit showcased and identified new solutions to the plastic waste challenge and mobilise further action from governments, industry and non-government organisations. The Summit also identified new opportunities to directly address targets under the National Waste Policy Action Plan.
Summit MC, science and environmental communicator Tanya Ha, also discussed the microrecycling science and technology developed by Veena and her team at the UNSW Centre for Sustainable Materials Research and Technology (SMaRT) Centre.
Caption: Veena with Summit MC Tanya Ha
Food company Nestle revealed its plan to save plastics from making its way to landfill.
MacDonald’s announced it would phase out the use of plastic cutlery at its Australian restaurants before the end of 2020, saving as much as 585 tonnes of waste every year.
Other commitments were made from businesses and groups, including the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation which pledged to lead the development of a global plastics initiative domestically.
APCO also committed to help governments, businesses and non-government organisations create a common goal for an improved plastics economy, from producer to consumer and thereafter, as part of the new ANZPAC Plastic Pact.
And Prime Minister Scott Morrison told the Summit Federal Government would change its purchasing rules to require government departments to consider environmental sustainability and the use of recycled content.
He also said it was unsustainable for the States to spend less than just 10% of the waste levies they raised from local council ratepayers on waste and recycling infrastructure and capacity.
Much of the Summit was spent with breakout sessions working on specific problems (see program below), with suggested actions and outcomes reported back to all participants and were to be captured by the Department of Environment.
Ms Ley said a major focus of the summit was getting people and companies interested in making waste valuable.
She said it was all about solving problems and looking for opportunities.
“We see waste as a resource, as an economic opportunity, as a driver for jobs, particularly in regional Australia,” Ms Ley said.
“We will see displays, and we will have panels of some of our top industry minds when it comes to recycling, innovative methods, remanufacturing and avoiding using too much packaging and plastic in the first place.”
Labor has warned the summit needs to be more than just a day of discussions.
“We can’t just talk rubbish, we need to make change,” Josh Wilson, Labor’s Shadow Assistant Minister for the Environment, said.
A survey and videos from the Summit sessions will be available for download from the Government’s Summit web page shortly after the Summit.
Caption: Veena gets ready for the start of the Summit as Minister Ley (right) does a TV interview.
National Plastics Summit program – 2 March 2020
|8.30-9.00||Arrival – tea and coffee|
|9.00-9.15||Welcome and opening addresses|
|9.30-10.00||Opening panel on national solutions|
We’ve gone from producing 2 million tonnes of plastic per year in 1950 to over 400 million tonnes today. It’s energy intensive and polluting, and less than one fifth is recycled. What needs to change to shift our reliance on virgin plastic and its impact on our lands and oceans? Source OECD
|10.00-10.30||MORNING TEA (Mural Hall)|
|Session 1||Addressing plastics at its source|
This session will discuss ways to reduce the amount of plastic produced. Topics include single-use and problematic plastic, sustainable product design, product stewardship solutions, waste avoidance and increasing recycled content in plastic products.
|Session 2||Plastics and our daily life|
This session will consider how we can better help households and communities manage their plastic needs and waste. Discussions will centre around restoring consumer confidence in recycling, education to reduce contamination in recycling material streams and curbside
|Session 3||The Plastics Revolution|
This session will discuss opportunities to harness the latest technologies for recycling plastic types, plastic material standards, products design solutions and processing solutions.
|Session 4||Plastics in the Economy|
This session will discuss how we can better connect the different stages of the plastic value-chain. Discussions will focus on ways we can improve how we collect, sort and process plastic, national standards for processed plastic, data needed to stimulate new markets and economic opportunities, and sustainable procurement by governments.
|Session 5||Plastics in our oceans and waterways|
This session will discuss ways to reduce plastic marine debris and microplastics/beads entering our oceans and what needs to be done to reduce this impact on the environment.
|12.30-14.00||LUNCH AND EXPO STALLS (Mural Hall)|
|14.00-15.00||Roundtable sessions repeated. Participants to attend a different roundtable topic from their morning session.|
|15.00-15.30||AFTERNOON TEA (Mural Hall, north-west corner)|
|15.30-15.40||School Students Taskforce report back|
|15.40-16.30||Roundtables report back – Roundtable facilitators to pitch solutions resulting from their discussion, including key actions for industry and government.|