>>>What We Learned From…War On Waste E4

ABC – War On Waste with Craig Reacassel

War On Waste is a fantastic series on the ABC presented by Craig Reucassel, who faces Australia’s biggest waste challenges head on and uncovers and shares the hugely disturbing truth about the wasteful society we live in, and how we are destroying the environment. The program and Craig’s work have already had a huge effect nationally, as the general public became aware of these issues and were horrified and keen to make a change. Big steps have been taken on plastic bag front, there is hope on decreasing the impact of coffee cups ending up in landfill, and there have been small improvements with food waste. There is still a very long way to go though.

Here’s a recap of the latest episode ‘Turning The Tide’. In a brand new War on Waste follow-up special, Craig returns to again put rubbish on our radar. He looks at whether we’ve found any solutions and have Australians changed the way they think about waste.

Bottles & Cans

Every year, 17 billion bottles and cans are used in Australia and less than half are recycled. 15,000 bottles and cans are thrown away every single minute!! We waste enough to stretch 4,000km – the whole way across Australia.

40 years ago, South Australia started the Container Deposit Scheme, where consumers pay 10c more for bottled and canned drinks and then get the 10c back in cash on return. South Australia has the highest recycling rate nationally, and has a return rate of 80%. 95% of South Australians contribute to the scheme which recycles 570 million returns, equating to $58,000,000 in refunded ‘easy’ money. There are 130 collection centres across the state. The initial success of the scheme 40 years ago could be linked to the awesome and very popular advertising campaign ‘South Australia, too lovely to litter’.

Craig interviews South Australians and finds that the scheme is a normal part of every day life, they have been returning bottles and cans their entire lives and they are proud of South Australia for being so good at it.

The Northern Territory and Tasmania have similar schemes. New South Wales launched a scheme on December 1 (YEY!). Victoria are currently the only state pushing back, claiming they do not need such a scheme.

In this episode, Craig heads to the Yarra river to see if Victoria really are the cleanest as they say they are. Within 10 minutes of looking through the riverbeds, Craig has filled an enormous bin bag with plastic bottles which he then proceeds to deliver directly to the Victorian Premiere Daniel Andrews… let’s hope the point was made.


Next stop for Craig was a glass facility, where glass waste is sorted to discard of non-glass materials and then use the recycled glass to produce new bottles.  This visit was inspired by the Four Corners investigation which uncovered an “unsustainable situation” where tonnes and tonnes of glass are being stockpiled in Australia, because it has nowhere to go – much to the dismay of the general public who think their curbside glass recycling collections are being put to good use.  Craig finds there is a viable market for this glass after all, it’s just a question of when it is going to get used.  Using recycled glass to produce bottles uses 75% less energy than if the bottles were made of new materials only.  100,000 tonnes of glass are recycled at this particular facility every year and 1.1 billion bottles are currently produced from there. The facility have plans to increase this to 1.6 billion, and says there is definitely a demand for this.

Food waste

The biggest food waste in Australia is in the home. Since War On Waste first uncovered just how wasteful supermarkets and general consumers are, improvements have been made. Including:

  • Harris Farm Markets and Woolworths selling ‘imperfect picks’ to try and combat the strict cosmetic standards with fruit & vegetables
  • Farmers turning banana waste into an edible food product – a nutritional powder
  • Coles selling products such as cauliflower rice and pumpkin noodles, made using the non-perfect items
  • New initiatives and communities are springing up across Australia to encourage composting and better management of organic waste
Plastic Bags

Plastic bans are gradually being phased out in many states and supermarkets across Australia, however Tasmania and New South Wales still need to step their game up. RecCycle soft plastics recycling bins are becoming more widespread in Coles and Woolworths, with plans to continue increasing them this year. There are currently around 924 across Australia. From Coles alone, 325 million plastic bags have been saved from landfill thanks to this recycling program. The soft plastics are used to create new products in Australia.

Coffee Cups

One billion coffee cups are used every half an hour. Things are improving as people are becoming more aware of the damaging effects of single-use coffee cups. 3000 coffee shops have joined responsible cafes movements promoting reusable cups. Reusable coffee cups like KeepCup are becoming increasingly popular and widespread. And companies are now creating new businesses based purely on finding a way to recycle coffee cups.

7 Eleven sell 70 million coffee cups every year (the second largest after MacDonalds). They are now working on a purpose-built facility where any coffee cup can be returned and then properly recycled.

Craig also visited a plant who are perfecting a solution for separating the plastics from within the coffee cups, meaning both parts can then be recycled.

There’s a summary of the key highlights from this week’s episode. This is such a brilliant program! We will continue to provide wrap-ups of the episodes for those who missed them, and hope everyone will share this with others so we can help War On Waste get their brilliant news and information out there, far and wide.

2017-12-04T12:02:00+00:00 December 4th, 2017|Blog, The War on Waste|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. […] reported in last week’s episode of ABC’s War On Waste, South Australia has an exception return rate of 80%. 95% of South Australians contribute to the […]

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