The Australian Plastics Flows and Fates (APFF) project (formerly named the Australian Plastics Recycling Survey) has been conducted annually since 2000 and provides a comprehensive time-series picture of plastics flows across all polymer types and applications.
This report is the national data report for the 2019–20 financial year, which is the 12-month period from 1 July 2019 to 30 June 2020. It was commissioned by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE), and state government agencies in New South Wales, Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia.
The core dataset published annually in this report is collected through a detailed survey of Australian plastics reprocessors, Australian resin manufacturers and importers, and extensive interrogation of Australian Customs data.
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.
- 3 461 700 tonnes of plastics were consumed in Australia.
- 2 496 700 tonnes of plastics reached end-of-life (EoL) in Australia.
- 326 600 tonnes of plastics were recovered, with 310 600 tonnes being recycled and 16 000 tonnes sent to energy recovery.
- The national plastics recovery rate – being a combination of recycling and energy recovery – was 13.1%. This was a decline on the 2018–19 rate of 15.8%, which was almost entirely due to a large decrease in plastics sent to energy recovery.
- The national plastics recycling rate was 12.4%.
- Of the 326 600 tonnes of plastics reprocessed in 2019–20, 200 300 tonnes (61.3%) was reprocessed in Australia and 126 300 tonnes (38.7%) was exported for reprocessing. This was a fall of 67 200 tonnes from the 2018–19 recovery of 393 800 tonnes. This fall was mostly due to a sharp contraction in scrap plastics to energy recovery, related to the implementation of import restrictions in receiving countries, and COVID-19 related transport and manufacturing impacts.
- Reprocessing capacity in Australia was an estimated 364 800 tonnes/yr at the end of 2020. Actual reprocessing in 2019–20 was 200 300 tonnes, or 55% of potential capacity. Planned new capacity over the next five years is 182 800 tonnes, or an increase of 50% over current capacity.