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Source: Australian Department of the Environment and Energy

Envisage Works and Sustainable Resource Use, 2020

Executive summary

In 2019, the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, and New South Wales, Queensland, Victorian and Western Australian state agencies commissioned the annual Australian Plastics Recycling Survey to capture the consumption and recycling of plastics in Australia during the 2018–19 financial year.

This information is collected through a detailed survey of Australian reprocessors, Australian resin manufacturers and importers, and extensive interrogation of Australian Customs data, sourced from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

The 2019 survey has been conducted by the partnership of Envisage Works and Sustainable Resource Use, and the survey results are aggregated and analysed within this report. This research started in 1997 and has been undertaken annually since 2000.

An assessment of national consumption of plastic retail carry bags was undertaken in this report, with a focus on single-use bags. This is an update of work last undertaken in the 2017-18 financial year.

The survey provides a comprehensive picture of the consumption, flow and recycling of plastics in Australia, the state of reprocessing markets and help to inform product stewardship developments. The survey is a valuable tool for promotion, knowledge of the industry and forward planning, including policy development and the tracking of policy outcomes to further improve plastics resource efficiency.

Key findings

  • In 2018-19, a total of 3.5 million tonnes of plastics were consumed in Australia.
  • In 2018-19, a total of 393 800 tonnes of plastics were recycled, including 72 000 tonnes sent to energy recovery. This is an increase of 23 per cent from the 2017-18 recovery.
  • In 2018–19, the national plastics recovery rate was 11.5 per cent.
  • Of the 393 800 tonnes of plastics collected for reprocessing, 203 100 tonnes (52 per cent) was reprocessed in Australia and 190 700 tonnes (48 per cent) was exported for reprocessing.

Further information

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