Less than 10% of plastic has ever been recycled.
In Australia, the numbers aren’t much higher – only 13 percent of plastic is recycled each year, and hundreds of tonnes of the stuff leaks into the marine environment. With the demise of soft plastic recycler REDcycle, more questions are being asked about the larger system of recycling. Much of it ends up in our oceans. 130,000 tonnes of plastic leaks into rivers and oceans every year in Australia. The often-touted line is that by 2050 plastic in the oceans will outweigh fish. But even if we could clean all the oceans of plastic today, by 2040 the amount of plastic in the world will have doubled, and more plastic would be in the ocean that the whole time up until now. ero Co for example, is a start-up that sends customers cleaning products in reusable soft plastic pouches. Once these pouches are emptied they can be returned to Zero Co, which washes and reuses them. With constituent support, the Australian government is starting to move the dial towards ending single use plastic, but the results so far have been mixed. A study on the single use plastic bag ban in the ACT for instance, found that plastic consumption went down, but only in a relatively small way. Single use bags were drastically reduced, but other types of plastic bags – like thicker, ‘reusable’, bags – filled their place.