Sustainable waste management
The recent single-use plastic bag ban in Australia has been a step forward to improve environmental efforts in the country. While Australia does not have a nationwide ban on single-use plastic bags, states have taken it upon themselves to introduce such laws. The single-use plastic bag ban shows a momentum of initiatives to improve environmental efforts, but challenges remain in improving recycling as well as waste management. Australia's population has more than quadrupled in the past century, and annual per capita waste generation is expected to grow from 2.1 tonnes to 2.5 tonnes. With increasing population numbers there is a necessity to improve effective waste management and introduce solutions that will help Australia handle the expected population growth to 40 million by 2050.
Australia’s current economic system is predominantly linear and focused on production, use and disposal. A shift to a circular economy would offer an alternative to this linear system by replacing the ‘end-of-life’ concept of the current system with restoration and regeneration. The circular economy model can be adopted by a variety of different industries as there is an increasingly urgent need to change the way in which we produce, consume and dispose of our waste. This is particularly important when we consider plastics, which need to be redesigned and their waste management improved. Currently, Australia still buries most of its waste but new technologies are being introduced including waste-to-energy solutions. There are successful examples of waste-to-energy solutions in Scandinavia. For example, Sweden has invested heavily in waste-to-energy plants, with currently thirty-four plants operating. Each year Sweden burns around 2 million tonnes of their waste and import another 2 million tonnes from other countries. However, waste-to-energy solutions rely on a low amount of plastic being burnt and requires a functioning recycling system, something that is still proving hard to achieve in Australia. Nonetheless, the right initiatives, policies, changes in social norm, and investment in technology can help the shift towards a circular economy and could eventually make Australia a leader in waste management and recycling.
In this challenge, we would like to discuss how Australia can move to a circular economy, particularly regarding its waste management and recycling.
- What are your thoughts on the future of waste management in Australia?
- How can we change the social norm of recycling in Australia?
- Is enough being done to make recycling easy, and what could be improved?
- Are there international examples you would like to see implemented in the Australian context?
Challenge Opened: 01:31 AM, Thursday 16 August 2018
Challenge Closes: 01:30 PM, Wednesday 29 August 2018
Time to go: Closed