In January 2021, the CSIRO published a Circular economy roadmap for plastics, glass, paper and tyres. The roadmap identified five core strategies that will benefit a circular economy and waste minimisation transition in Australia. The plastic pipes and fittings industry is already on the pathway to unlocking opportunities to continue to drive the circular economy of plastics. Here’s how:
Aim: Retain the quality and value of source materials and prevent material loss.
Our engineered plastics are generally made from one single material, making them easy to recycle. For over a decade we have been working with stakeholders to recover as much plastic pipe and divert from landfill, which is still a focus for us today. With a life expectancy typically in excess of 100 years, plastic pipes in Australia are still in their first life cycle.
Aim: Increase national recycling infrastructure
With our objective of recovering as much plastic pipe diverting it from landfill, we have established a National Recycling Scheme. This provides an alternative avenue for the low volume of plastic pipes that enter the waste stream to be recovered. Through education and pilot programs we continue to engaged with other industry stakeholders to increase recovery rates.
Aim: Boost market demand for recycling products and develop innovative solutions.
Plastic systems are being recycled now! Recycled material is incorporated with virgin materials at varying levels to manufacture new pipe which as the same life and performance expectations as pipe made from solely virgin material. These products have the capacity to meet the future demands as the volume of plastic pipe recyclate steadily grows over time.
Aim: Provide consistency in governance, messaging and education.
Our industry has worked with Standards to include the use of recyclate safely, ensuring the product performance is not jeopardised. Through our sustainability campaign, education and advocacy we provide consistent messaging across all levels of industry and Government.
Aim: Facilitate system-level changes that foster sustainable consumption and production.
We provide transparency to the industry with certified Environmental Product Declarations on plastic systems, while working to further reduce our carbon footprint. Establishing partnerships such as Operation Clean Sweep, pilot recycling programs and extending our own National Recycling scheme we continue our commitment to the circular economy.
Source: Figure 6.1 Strategies for unlocking the circular economy of plastics, glass, paper and tyres, CSIRO National economy roadmap for plastics, glass, paper and tyres, January 2021