In 2017, the Department of the Environment and Energy, and Queensland, Western Australian, Victorian and NSW state agencies commissioned the annual Australian Plastics Recycling Survey (APRS) to capture the consumption and recycling of plastics in Australia during the 2016–17 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 (DFAT). Green Industries SA performs its own survey of South Australian plastics reprocessors and material recovery facility operators, and the data from that survey is incorporated into this report.
The 2017 survey has been conducted by the partnership of Envisage Works and Sustainable Resource Use (SRU), and the survey results are aggregated and analysed within this report. This research started in 1997 and has been undertaken annually since 2000.
For the first time this year’s survey includes consumption and recycling of tyres nationally. As an add-on task to the main time-series APRS study this year, an assessment of national consumption of plastic retail carry bags in 2016–17 has been undertaken, with a focus on single-use bags.
The survey provides a comprehensive picture of the consumption, flow, recovery and recycling of plastics in Australia, the state of reprocessing markets and assists in informing the status of product stewardship commitments in relation to plastic products. The survey is a valuable tool for promotion, knowledge of the industry and forward planning, including informing and tracking policies and programs to further improve plastics resource efficiency over whole of life.
- A total of 3 513 100 tonnes of plastics were consumed in Australia in 2016–17.
- A total of 293 900 tonnes of plastics were recycled in 2016–17, which is a fall of 10 per cent from 2015–16 recovery. Including tyres, total plastics recovery was 415 200 tonnes.
- In 2016–17 the national plastics recycling rate was 11.8 per cent.
- Of the 415 200 tonnes of plastics collected for recycling, 180 100 tonnes (43.4 per cent) was reprocessed in Australia and 235 100 tonnes (56.6% per cent) was exported for reprocessing. Local reprocessing was flat from 2015–16, with export for reprocessing falling by 20 per cent.
- In 2016-17 Australians used 5.66 billion single-use plastic bags.