Why Australia’s recycling crisis could actually be a good thing

REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE: Dennis Collins of Paper Freight with the coffee cups and recyclables he processes to stop excess waste ending up in landfill.
REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE: Dennis Collins of Paper Freight with the coffee cups and recyclables he processes to stop excess waste ending up in landfill.

With the future direction of recycling in Australia up in the air, some Ballarat businesses are viewing the changes in a positive light. 

Dennis Collins from Ballarat based recycling plant Paper Freight Australia said the changes will mean a big shake-up of the way recyclable waste is managed. 

“Waste is not going to be as cheap to recycle anymore,” he said. 

“Hopefully the government steps in and people get the chance to use recycled waste out there to make stuff; this waste could mean jobs for people in Australia.” 

Mr Collins said if Australia makes steps to process recyclable waste on shore rather than overseas, it will create jobs and help stimulate the wider economy. 

“This could be positive a change for the better; instead of sending stuff overseas, more Australians can be employed through reusing products,” he said.  

“This has not just happened, the big boys were notified three years go that this was going to happen so they have had plenty of time to deal with it.

“It costs Australia $531 million a year to chip our recyclables to China.”

While Mr Collins is only one of many businesses that recycle products in Australia, he said there must be top-down leadership if the country is going to deal with the mounting waste problem. 

“The government has a lot to do in this space,” he said. 

“State and federal governments have to take this and run with it; it is no use just sitting there and is important to get everybody on board trying to work out how to solve the problem.

“These changes are happening all around the world now, big companies are signing up to take back 30 per cent of their products to be recycled, that's a big push and that's what is going to continue to happen.”

Paper Freight Australia isn’t the only Ballarat business to find new ways to cut down on the impact of waste management. 

From the beginning of February this year, live music venue and bar Karova Lounge made the decision to stop serving single-use plastic straws with their drinks. 

Karova Lounge partnered with The Last Straw, a national campaign to end the use of single-use plastic straws in bars and clubs in Australia, in an effort to reduce their plastic waste. 

The venue has adopted a policy of only giving straws out on request only, rather than by default. 

Karova Lounge’s Venue Manger Denby Walker said the initiative is in line with the venue’s mission of responsible business. 

“Karova Lounge has always tried to lead the way around certain issues, so we are excited by making this small change that can have a major impact to our environment,” he said.