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Community & Business

21 May, 2021

Mungalli wants to be part of the solution

SINCE she joined the family firm three years ago, Beth Watson, Brand Ambassador with Mungalli Creek Dairy Pty Ltd, said she has been badgering her parents to use more sustainable packaging on their dairy products.


BY SALLY TURLEY

SINCE she joined the family firm three years ago, Beth Watson, Brand Ambassador with Mungalli Creek Dairy Pty Ltd, said she has been badgering her parents to use more sustainable packaging on their dairy products. 

Horrified by the statistics she has uncovered during her ongoing research into recycling, Beth has appealed to the community to get behind her push for change. 

“Our relationship with waste can't end with the yellow-topped bin. Only 11% of what goes in that bin is actually recycled,” she said.

Ms Watson is asking her community to “Be part of the solution and sign the petition” that Mungalli Creek have launched online, to “help create a circular society where resources are designed to be reused, not just used up.” 

“A staggering 84% of plastic is buried in land fill, second in quantity only to America. In fact, the rubbish we send to landfill each year would cover the state of Victoria and what doesn't go to landfill is stockpiled until someone works out what to do with it. We need to pull together and work in clusters if we are going to achieve results,” she said. 

“Up until 2018, Australia hasn't really needed recycling facilities as our government was spending 3 billion dollars a year, shipping it to China. Not even China wants it now and our councils are floundering under the mountains of waste they have to deal with each week.” 

Ms Watson has considered a number of potential solutions for their own business, but most were problematic.

“Recyclable glass bottles involved large freight, cleaning and energy costs and biodegradable/compostable packaging looked good, but was compacted so tightly into landfill, that the reduced oxygenation dramatically slowed biodegration,” she said.

“We would have loved to have set up milk vending machines in IGA with reusable bottles, but at $60-$80,000 each, they were not a budget option, so we were finally forced to revisit plastic. 

PET bottles ticked virtually all of our boxes - they were recyclable locally, light, food safe and worked on our existing packaging equipment. 

“Best of all, our milk became truly farm to shelf, as those bottles were delivered to us as small tubes that were blown on site. We had to reduce our bottle sizing, but savings made on packaging has enabled us to pay more to our hard working farmers,” Ms Watson said. 

We simply do not recycle enough plastic in Australia – of the 3.4 million tonnes of plastics consumed annually, only 320 000 tonnes or 9.4% were recycled, less than in 2005. 

Australia has been warned it needed to increase its plastic reprocessing by up to 400 per cent to meet national recycling targets.

“Unfortunately, virgin plastic has been tied to the oil price, so a fall in the oil price makes new material cheaper than second hand plastic and price has always been a major factor for businesses. We need a reliable and steady stream of recycled plastic for our packaging, but we are not a big enough player to access it,” Ms Watson said. 

Ms Watson believed the Australian Government needed to encourage and reward startups who were keen to develop solutions to recycling and creating useful byproducts from waste. 

They are springing up all around the country and off ering brilliant solutions. Heading up a sample of Australia's top 10 new start ups is “Licella” who have developed a unique hydrothermal upgrading platform, the Cat-HTR. 

It can rapidly and economically transform a wide range of biomass, waste plastic and industry residues into a synthetic oil or biocrude to produce more sustainable fuels and chemicals.

“Nexus eWater” is a home water recycling platform that develops solutions converting grey water for home water and energy use and “Renewlogy” is a global leader in proprietary chemical recycling of low value plastic waste into high value fuels. 

“Green Distillation Technologies" is effectively and profitably recycling end of life car and truck tyres (ELTs) into saleable commodities of oil, carbon and steel.

“Manrags” invented a sock recycling and direct-to-consumer textile recycling solution and “BlockTexx” is a clean technology company that recovers polyester and cellulose from textiles and clothing.

Interest in and commitment to the recycling sector is clearly evident on the Australian business landscape and our government needs to increase funding and support to this Brains Trust and reward originality and design excellence. 

This issue has become too important and too urgent to be left to lie on the table. Recycled plastic can be remade into bottles and containers, furniture, building materials or even roads, but it has to be cleaned, processed and cleared by quality assurance. 

It is an expensive process and it becomes hard to see the incentive when virgin plastic is cheaper.

“We propose that the government incentivise the recycled plastic market, to encourage consumers to choose recycled plastic over virgin material, using a program similar to the successful incentives employed with solar take-up.

“We want to know that just like with glass, the plastic bottle used today can be recycled again and again. Over 130,000 tonnes of plastic waste is already leaking into our oceans and global plastic consumption will double in the next 20 years." 

A circular economy would reduce the 300 types of plastic currently available, to the two that were easiest to recycle, PET and HDPE, displacing the rest. 

It takes less energy and less carbon to use recycled material. Ironically, landfill creates just three jobs for every 10,000 tonnes of waste dumped, while recycling creates nine. 

Moving towards a more circular economy would reduce pressure on the environment and local council, improve the security of the supply of raw plastic materials, stimulate innovation, boost economic growth and create jobs.

In 2019 Queensland implemented a Waste Levy charged to Landfill Operators across 90% of the state's population, for every tonne of waste dumped into landfill. 

It applied to municipal solid waste, commercial and industrial; construction, demolition and hazardous waste, incrementally increasing annually. 

“Its aim was to make dumping waste in landfill more expensive than recycling, because, like anything, the waste management sector is profit driven and 70% of revenue generated would go to councils in the form of an advance payment.. 

This levy could also provide a source of funding for the facilitation of better resource recovery practices,” Ms Watson said. 

 “At Mungalli we are invested in creating a healthy future for the next generation. It’s why we’ve farmed Biodynamically for over 30 years. But the future is about so much more than just our farm.

“In our lifetime there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish. What future are we leaving our children and grandchildren? Our relationship with plastic needs rethinking. We plunder the earth's raw materials to make plastic products that are often used only once, and thrown away. 

“With your help, we can change our current model. Let's see what what's achievable when a passionate group of thoughtful, committed people get together and work for social change. Do something great for your planet – there are still 28 days left to sign the petition online at mungallicreekdairy.com.au/plastic-is-wasted/.”

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