The power of product standards is genuine. They might be used to decrease waste across the whole lifespan of plastic.
A plastic food container’s reverse side will have microscopic lettering that looks like “AS 2070” on it. This indicates that the item complies with the Australian standard for food-safe plastics.
These often ignored rules are a part of everyday existence. Australia has a set of rigid requirements that serve as quality standards for a variety of goods. They serve as standards for plastic product design and production, moulding the particular polymers used, allowing for the use of recycled materials, and compostability.
There is a great chance to do more here. Major public concern is being sparked by the problems with plastic garbage in our oceans and the consequences it has on animals. The difficulty of employing many different kinds of plastic as the raw material for new goods is one of the issues associated with plastic waste. Stronger incentives are also required to limit the use of plastic in production and design.
Standards may be useful in this situation. The plastics sector has being pushed toward a real circular economy by the European Union through regulations and laws. This entails reducing the amount of plastic used wherever feasible and ensuring that used plastics can be recycled to create new items rather than becoming rubbish that may wind up in our oceans. We may use standards to decrease plastic waste in a similar manner. How? By regulating businesses to use the least amount of plastic packaging possible and establishing standards for items to only be produced of certain polymers while avoiding others.
95 criteria in all were uncovered through our recent investigation. Of these, nine are Australian. This indicates that there is a fantastic potential for Australian specialists to participate in the creation of national and worldwide standards.
Why are standards important?
Standards may be thought of as prescriptions and regulations of conduct. Standards provide manufacturers with a framework for the minimal level of quality and safety needed for their products to be sold in Australia. Additionally, they aid in establishing a universal language and improve market compatibility and effectiveness.
Around the globe, standards are thought to have an impact on 80% of commerce. They really affect people. A product won’t be approved if it doesn’t fulfil the requirements of the nation or jurisdiction for which it is designed.
By using standards to make sure their products adhere to strict specifications, plastic recyclers provide quality assurance to manufacturers that purchase recycled plastics to create new items.
Standards for plastic reuse can guarantee that certain goods can be reused again. Consumers may also benefit from labelling requirements by understanding what can and cannot be recycled.
Government and business may both decide to create standards. A crucial step towards a circular economy, standards may also boost customer trust, encourage societal acceptance of recycled items, and preserve or raise the value of recycled plastics.
We may take use of this potent weapon and aid in the standardisation of certain aspects of the developing global circular economy for plastics by introducing new standards for additional points in the plastics supply chain.
At every step of a product’s lifespan, from design to production to recycling to reuse, standards might help us decrease waste.
What did we discover?
To map the current plastics standards throughout the globe, we collaborated with Standards Australia. Additionally, we looked for gaps that, if closed, may contribute to improved plastic waste management.
The bulk of current plastic regulations, both Australian and worldwide, are focused on the waste disposal or recycling phases of the lifetime of plastic.
We’ll need to update current standards and establish additional that especially concentrate on the early phases of plastic manufacturing, including the design or development of the fundamental building elements of plastics, in order to create a real circular economy for plastics.
Consider the production of nurdles, the tiny plastic beads generated in billions, as a crucial initial step in the production of various polymers. The consequences for animals when nurdles flow into the ocean are severe. We can lessen their influence if we establish standards that are centred on these actions.
More standards might aid in addressing the issues related to making things recyclable and reusable as well as reducing the amount of packaging required for products.
They may also be used to evaluate biodegradable items to make sure that they don’t complicate the processing of already-existing garbage or recycling streams.
Additionally, standardising product labels may benefit us as customers. Imagine if the percentage of recycled plastics in a product was listed on the label, along with a rating of how recyclable or compostable it was.
This would encourage producers to create items that are easier to recycle. Additionally, it would prevent certain issues like multi-layer plastics, which are expensive to recycle.
In conclusion, plastic standards are an often ignored means for us to enhance the usage and repurposing of these very adaptable contemporary materials.
Plastics don’t have to end up as harmful garbage for the environment. If we need them to be, they can be nearly infinitely beneficial.
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