Australia has been named as one of the most wasteful nations despite efforts to lessen the use of single-use plastics in the country. In a desperate attempt to clean up the country and help save the environment, the citizens of Australia were forced to reduce, reuse and recycle. However, the reporter of 60 Minutes, Liam Bartlett revealed that the efforts of the citizens to recycle the plastic that they use every day are simply a waste of time. The reporter tracked the process of where these reusable plastics go and to their surprise, it doesn’t end at a recycling plant somewhere in the suburbs of Australia.
Instead, they go to an illegal dumping site in Malaysia where the discarded garbage are dumped. It is then either buried or burned.
Despite the great efforts Australians put into segregating their trash to ensure that the recyclables could still be reused, very little effort is put on the reprocessing of these items. The only exceptions are the soft drinks and milk bottles as they have a very specific target market that turns it into home soil.
Haydn Breheny who runs his own recycling business in the southeast of Australia revealed to 60 Minutes that if the plastic that arrives in the plant cannot be sold in the Asian markets, then it could not be recycled too. the plastic would often end up at the tip.
“The most moral thing to do is to deal with the trash appropriately,” said Breheny. “The problem is that if people don’t know what else to do with the trash that they produce, then what can the recycling industry do about it?”
In 2018, the Chinese recycling market was closed and has brought about a huge problem to countries who produce more trash than they could handle, like Australia. Rather than ethically recycling, they are dumping trash elsewhere.
Is illegal removal of rubbish be the solution, even if it means problems passed on to another nation, is its opportunity still worth taking on?