War On Waste: Make Disposal Labels Mandatory

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War On Waste: Make recyclable and/or disposal labels mandatory on all Woolworths and Coles products. 

Have you ever felt confused on whether some piece of packaging you've attained could be recycled? Have you ever as a result of this lack of clarification, opted to dispose of the material to be on the safe side? 

Tuesday night, whilst viewing ABC's episode War on Waste, I was shocked to discover that many products, in particular, meat trays, did not have clear instructions on whether to recycle or dispose of the packaging. You would think it would be a simple practice to benefit the consumer's knowledge of sustainability and waste management. 

But alas, during the documentary presenter Craig Reucassel alongside Planet Arks Research and Technical Manager Dr. Sean O'Malley uncovered that out of the 9 meat trays selected from various supermarkets, only 2 of them had recycling labels. The rest was seemingly unclear. 

So what current action is Australia taking on it? Well according to the Australian Packaging Covenant Strategic Plan 2017 – 2022, over the next 5 years, "Industry will have widely adopted a unified packaging Recycling/Disposal Labelling
Scheme to guide consumer behavior, resulting in less recyclable packaging going to landfill," with the Australian Chief of Police support. 

Furthermore, Coles and Woolworths have already partnered with Redcycle, a company who aim is to inform consumers on the recyclability of their products through signs on garbage receptacles and online information. 

What can still be done? Waste is already a huge problem affecting Australia today. Why put more items in the landfill that could otherwise be reused when we don't have too? The pressure needs to be put on. 

Every year Australia already generates 50 million tonnes of waste, at least 20 million of this ending up in landfills. That's 2 tonnes of waste per person! 

A larger problem is it's wider reaching effect on our environment including our waterways. According to the organization Ocean Crusaders also featured on ABC the other night;

  • 100 000 marine animals die each year from plastic entanglement
  • 1 million seabirds die from plastic annually
  • There are 46 000 pieces of plastic in every square mile of ocean
  • More than 2/3 of the world's fish stocks are suffering from plastic indigestion, and yes this can bioaccumulate to end up on our dinner plates. 

Thus, it's easy to see why our knowledge about our products is extremely important. When we know whats safe to recycle or dispose of, then we can be assured we are doing our best to be stewards of our environment. In turn, we could be reducing the amount of waste we produce each year. 

One last point...

American author Robert Collier once stated, "Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and out."  Perhaps your votes can be our small, collective contribution to sustainability and the improvement of manufacturing processes in Australia that could lead to greater effects in future.