The future of recycling | Cleaning Up Our Act

The NSW Government recently conducted a survey on recycling and plastic waste, Cleaning Up Our Act: Redirecting the Future of Plastic in NSW Discussion Paper March 2020.

It offers a comprehensive series of actions for managing plastics that will help align NSW alongside international jurisdictions, and perhaps even lead the nation when it comes to tackling the challenge of plastic waste. Once complete, Cleaning Up our Act will sit alongside the 20-Year Waste Strategy with a focus that is centred on:


Plastic is valued and managed in NSW within a circular economy, delivering improved environmental and human health outcomes.


Plastic is manufactured, reused, recycled, and disposed with minimal disruptions in services and in accordance with community expectations. For example, there are resilient local and international markets for recovered plastics.


Plastic usage and management improvements are undertaken with the least adverse impacts on consumers, including costs, and plastic reuse and recycling initiatives realise the economic opportunities available.

“Plastic has vastly improved the quality of our lives and allowed us to pursue unparalleled advances in technology, transport, communication, healthcare, safety and education,” said Matt Kean Minister for Energy and Environment. “However, it has also become synonymous with the global consumer economy and underpins our use and dispose mentality. The plastic that is littered today will still exist in hundreds or even thousands of years’ time – possibly longer.

“If we don’t improve how we manage plastic now, plastic pollution will only increase, causing more damage to our environment and increasing the risk to human health, now and for generations to come. We are facing a global plastic pollution crisis that requires a comprehensive and bold response. This is not just about banning one product; this is about changing how our economy uses, reuses and disposes of plastic.”

The Government has outlined a series of outcomes and proposed targets in the Clean Up Our Act paper, namely:

  • Reduce plastic waste by phasing out key single-use plastics.
  • Harness people power to create a fundamental shift in the way we use plastic including setting design standards for plastic consumer items.
  • Make the most of our plastic resources by tripling the proportion of plastic recycled in NSW across all sectors and streams by 2030.
  • Make producers of plastic items more responsible for collecting and recycling.
  • A mandate 30% minimum recycled content in plastic packaging.
  • Reduce plastic litter items by 25% by 2025.
  • Invest in infrastructure that can better manage plastic before it causes harm, including setting up a NSW plastics research network.

Click here for the full paper.