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Episodio #38: Tassa sulla plastica per salvare l'Australia

Plastic bottles Source: pexels.com/mali maeder

Un nuovo rapporto prevede una tassa nazionale sulla plastica come soluzione a breve termine per il crescente problema dell'Australia con i rifiuti.

SBS Italian news, with a slower pace. This is Slow Italian, Fast Learning, the very best of the week’s news, read at a slower pace, with Italian and English text available.

Italian

Un nuovo rapporto ha rivelato che il governo federale potrebbe introdurre una tassa sulla plastica già dal 2020, nello sforzo di ridurre il crescente problema dei rifiuti in Australia.

Per anni l'Australia ha esportato una larga parte dei suoi rifiuti riciclabili in Cina, ma la Cina ha rafforzato i suoi standard di contaminazione e bandito 24 tipi di rifiuti.

Il rapporto del gestore patrimoniale globale Credit Suisse, L'era della plastica: al punto di non ritorno, sostiene che queste restrizioni hanno avuto un impatto "colossale" sull'Australia.

Il documento prevede che entro l'anno finanziario 2020/21 il governo sarà costretto a introdurre una tassa d'emergenza sulla plastica inutilizzata e non trattata.

Il rapporto sostiene inoltre che il governo potrebbe imporre dei dazi doganali su beni importati fatti di plastica, proibire i prodotti di plastica usa e getta e creare incentivi fiscali per prodotti dai contenuti riciclati.

Trevor Thornton, docente che si occupa della gestione di materiali pericolosi alla Deakin University di Melbourne, ha dichiarato che i governi del paese si stanno orientando verso queste misure.

"All the governments have made a commitment by 2025 to really reduce, in essence, the amount of single-use plastic from a variety of different types of products. So I think there will be some work over the next year or so. I mean, the Victorian government's looking at that, Queensland and so forth, (beginning) to look at strategies of how they can reduce plastics. And, I guess, economic incentives or disincentives are one really positive way of doing that, because that's what businesses often just listen to."

I dati più recenti a livello nazionale mostrano che nel 2014/15 l'Australia ha creato 64 milioni di tonnellate di rifiuti.

Da queste, il 54% è stato riciclato - il 4 in recupero energetico - e il 42% è finito in discariche e inceneritori.

Nel 2016/17, l'Australia ha esportato più di 4,2 millioni di tonnellate di materiale riciclato, con più di 1,2 millioni inviato in Cina.

La Cina ha utilizzato i materiali esportati - come plastiche, carta e cartone - per creare altri prodotti.

Ma come Thornton spiega, le leggi più severe della Cina hanno conseguenze per il 99% dei materiali riciclati che l'Australia ha finisco esportato nel paese.

"Our recyclables were quite contaminated, and so, as an example, the Chinese had to spend some time and effort to really get rid of that, which increased the cost associated with it. They also improved their recycling efforts internally as well, which was great. So they've sort of said, 'Well, we don't want yours, because we've got enough and don't want all this dirty recyclables.' So they said, 'We're no longer going to take it unless it's at a certain quality.' Other countries have followed suit, saying, 'Well, we don't want to take it anymore.' So this has left Australia in a position of a lot of recyclables, no market, and 'What do they do with it?' is really the question."

Il rapporto di Credit Suisse precede l'obiettivo nazionale per ridurre i rifiuti, che verrà annunciato dal governo federale all'inizio di dicembre.

Fairfax Media riporta che l'Australia con questi cambiamenti dirotterà l'80% dei rifiuti dalle discariche entro il 2030.

Inoltre verrà ratificato l'obiettivo di riduzione del totale dei rifiuti prodotti da ogni australiano del 10% entro il 2030.

Lo scorso settembre, la ministra dell'ambiente Melissa Price ha annunciato delle nuove misure di target nazionali, che prevedono il 70% degli imballaggi plastici riciclati o compostati.

Tutti gli imballaggi inoltre dovranno avere una media del 30% di contenuto riciclato entro il 2025.

English

A new report has revealed the federal government may introduce a plastic tax as early as 2020 in an effort to reduce Australia's mounting waste problem.

Australia had been exporting a large portion of its recyclable waste to China, but China has since tightened its contamination standards and banned 24 types of waste.

The global wealth manager Credit Suisse's report, The age of plastic: at a tipping point, says those restrictions have had what it calls a "colossal" impact on Australia.

It predicts, by the 2020/21 financial year, the government will be forced to introduce an emergency tax on virgin resin, or unused and unprocessed plastic.

The report says the government may also enforce tariffs on imported plastic goods, bans on single-use plastics and tax incentives for products with recycled content.

Dr Trevor Thornton, a lecturer in hazardous-materials management at Melbourne's Deakin University, says governments around the country have been building towards such measures.

"All the governments have made a commitment by 2025 to really reduce, in essence, the amount of single-use plastic from a variety of different types of products. So I think there will be some work over the next year or so. I mean, the Victorian government's looking at that, Queensland and so forth, (beginning) to look at strategies of how they can reduce plastics. And, I guess, economic incentives or disincentives are one really positive way of doing that, because that's what businesses often just listen to."

The most recent national data shows, in 2014/15, Australia generated 64 million tonnes of waste.

Out of that, 54 per cent went to recycling, 4 per cent to energy recovery and 42 per cent to disposal in landfill and incineration.

In 2016/17, Australia exported more than 4.2 million tonnes of recycled materials, with more than 1.2 million going to China.

China had used the exported materials -- like plastics, paper and cardboard -- to create other products.

But as Dr Thornton explains, China's tighter regulations have affected 99 per cent of the recycled materials Australia had been exporting to the country. 

"Our recyclables were quite contaminated, and so, as an example, the Chinese had to spend some time and effort to really get rid of that, which increased the cost associated with it. They also improved their recycling efforts internally as well, which was great. So they've sort of said, 'Well, we don't want yours, because we've got enough and don't want all this dirty recyclables.' So they said, 'We're no longer going to take it unless it's at a certain quality.' Other countries have followed suit, saying, 'Well, we don't want to take it anymore.' So this has left Australia in a position of a lot of recyclables, no market, and 'What do they do with it?' is really the question."

Dr Thornton says Australia needs to be smarter to deal with the changing circumstances.

The Credit Suisse report comes ahead of a national target for reducing waste, which the federal government is expected to announce in early December.

Fairfax Media reports Australia would divert 80 per cent of its waste from landfill by 2030 under the changes.

There would also be a target of reducing the total waste generated by each Australian by 10 per cent by 2030.

In September, Environment Minister Melissa Price announced new national packaging targets, with 70 per cent of plastic packaging to be recycled or composted by 2025.

All packaging will also have to have an average of 30 per cent recycled content by 2025.

Report by Tara Cosoleto        

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