Is plastics recycling a scam

I’m in Australia – we separate household waste and recyclables are collected separately.  There is also a large fee imposed on retailers who sell goods in plastic (which, of course, is passed on to us consumers).  We can take things like plastic bottles to recycling centers ourselves, and get back a rebate (fraction of the fee paid by retailers, who keep the rest themselves to compensate for lost sales due to the price rise… but that’s another story…)

SO – I decided to try and buy bulk HDPE plastic waste (all our milk bottles are HDPE).  I spent a week making phone calls and getting the run-around over-and-over.  Everyone knows about the rebate scheme, but 90% have no clue where it goes next.  Even the bulk back-end handling staff offload their collections to more and different places, and at the end of the day – there’s nowhere other than garbage dumps (landfills) that seems to take this stuff.

The closest I found was a bankrupted recycling center, who were in the process of moving all their collected waste into landfill.

As best I can tell – the system set up to take money from consumers, and redistribute it to greedy middlemen is well oiled, but at the end of the chain – there’s nothing but landfill for HDPE.

Is this the same in all developed countries?  Does anyone in Australia know how to get bulk HDPE that is less expensive (preferably free or even better – where I’m paid by that tax) than buying new pellets from China?


kind of yes – but like in any other sector – as soon the establishment figures a way to funnel public money to their buddies – then you can count on they do 🙂 I’ve witnessed billions of $$ disappearing in black holes or a dusty drawer – even here in Europe with the H2020 programs – most of it is for prestige and PR 🙂

Right now, ‘Precious Plastic’ isn’t exactly different – it rides on very thin ice – controlled by a central apparatus – applying same principles as in the old world –  driven by rather ideologies instead of going for the science and opportunities for the little man – at least that’s our perception looking at the tools it doesn’t provide and lots of new raised questions but yet fails to answer most of them … A kinda pity see this happening looking at the momentum it created in the first place.

However, there are interesting books about this phenomen – let me find it back in the archives – back to you soon.

@malevil great thoughts and very relevant, our government has deluded to the population for decades on its recycling policies and allays pushed for consumerism for profit rather than a sustainable circular economy and sadly still does. We also are one of the few countries unlikely to meet their emission targets. Keep the push going.

if only it was that clear and simple, our government policies are not to be followed, they are the reason we have a massive waste epidemic currently going on here. In short governments are for profit, not the people or the environment. Take the USA for example and follow the trail you will be disheartened. We need to take control.

Keep up the good fight, together we can make the difference.

@brian5971 – it would be lovely if the world just told the whole truth all the time, and nobody stole money or did awful things etc.  Unfortunately, wishing that was true doesn’t make it so 🙁

Just because someone takes your plastic from you, does not mean that it is getting recycled.  Here is a factchecked truth for you to try and come to terms with:

Only 12% gets recycled.

In Australia, we put all our recycling into a yellow bin, which is collected every second week.  To put that into perspective, on average, only 3 times a YEAR does the contents of that bin actually get recycled.

Plastic Recycling is not the scam and never it can be. Every country has policies for the plastic recycling, you’ll never face an issue if you follow the policies.

Hello everyone i read paciently every comment here… this days i ve been reading by my own a lot about this topic.
it seems to me that everything you say its very well explain by the documentary ” consumer societies” in the episode # 4 ” reciclyng lie” you can watch it in Netflix.
Its updated information about the struggles , countries , companies  existing and involved… so you´re NOT alone is everywhere.
However…  Im starting to have the tesis that we need to make more attractive the recycling plastics even tho in this page we have all the starting punch ( machines, products, info etc.)  ,  collect plastic should be more attractive than money maybe as a bussiness model for trade for benefits as food or discounts. I was reading two days ago in this community about an idea of making an app to identify different plastics types i would add to that  … identify and trade for benefits.

It’s the same in most other countries as well. I did an experiment to collect all my plastic over the course of 1 month, and I was shocked at the volume my household produced, now multiply it by every home in your city/town/planet, your town council has a huge problem if they collect recyclables… hence recycling is a big bucks industry.

What I envision is if everyone did PP from their homes or communities, this middle industry would disappear.

Yes it seems it’s all a massive cover up down under. I keep getting, closed off and told about Victoria’s new ‘circular economy policy’ being developed and released late 2019 which will address all concerns and will showcase how they will work around the recycling industry’s issues. Until then all activity is on hold until later notice! What does that even mean?? ‘We will do nothing until we release a policy’ which may take years. So yeah it’s all smoke mirrors and diversion form the topic. Its kind of late 2019 and parliament will shut down soon and still no information regarding this policy or any defined direction, so the waste continues to build and no way of finding out what is happening to it. It also seems there will be no support anytime soon for anyone trying to get in and help with new products and processes and recycling techniques, unless you are big business with mates connected to the political system.

You may find this article interesting. Supports what we are discussing, they are bulling anyone or thing that is pressuring them on what is going on. You could probably run a successful political campaign based off recycling at the moment.

In regards to the container deposit legislation, this debate has been going on for as long as I can remember in Vic and has been wanted by the public for decades but it never goes anywhere, so we will see.

News from August this year:

“The analysis was commissioned by the Victorian Greens who pledged to introduce legislation to establish a container deposit scheme when State Parliament resumes this month.

A container deposit scheme would cost $9 million, the state’s own Parliamentary Budget Office says.

If the state charged beverage manufacturers a small fee for each can or bottle sold, the price of each drink would cover the cost of the refund program, the office’s independent analysis suggests.

*While the cost would most likely be passed on at the till*, consumers could recoup 10¢ per drink by returning cans and bottles to a drop-off point.

Revenue from unclaimed deposits could go into a fund managed by the Environment Protection Authority, estimated to cost $9 million a year.

The proposed scheme could generate an estimated $253.5 million over four years, which would pay for the cost of expanding and improving Victoria’s aluminium and glass recycling.”

So, $253.5-9 = $244.5M … with a quarter of a billion dollars of “free money” on the table, and both the government and the parties independently working on studies, and 85% of stupid consumers “happy” to pay that extra tax, I would not bet on Vic not introducing this scheme in the near future.  Get ready for everything to go up 15cents, so 4% of people can claim back 10cents later…

Interesting!!  So it’s not just me then?

I tried again, very hard, yesterday and today – with no luck once again.  The “Waste and Recovery center”, which is where my council takes all our kerbside stuff, and which is listed here: – has the council phone number instead of their own – if you call it, they take a message, and never call you back.

If you look at it on google earth, it’s a landfill.

I’ve called a pile of numbers so far, and I get the same runaround: I didn’t care how I get it (as-delivered, shredded, dirty – I don’t care), but they still refuse to let me have any, or tell me where it’s going.  I made out as if I’m a bulk user seeking hundreds of tons too… nothing.

HDPE (#2 / milk bottles) are not part of the QLD tax scheme, so there is no real incentive for them to do anything with that stuff except bulldoze it into a hole.  I don’t know about other states – but I have tried calling them – same deal – it’s a black hole, figuratively and it seems literally 🙂

Living in Victoria we do not have a refund scheme on any consumer recyclable goods, we never have and I dare say we never will. So the money system you refer to does not exist. We are in the process of developing a product that will consume a fair amount of recycled plastic and have run into plenty of issues sourcing such plastic in a shredded form as the recyclers we have here only sell to big business in very large quantities. When it comes to pelletised plastic, again same issue bulk purchase only but the majority of their product is being sourced from China and resold here at a premium (so not helping our waste issue on any level). We gave it to China and are now buying it back, go figure.

This is a concern as I see the amount of clean shredded plastic now starting to be produced here (vic) but I do not see where it is going and I get shut down when I investigate it to procure it for our own purposes or to where it is all actually going. I have found a very limited number of companies here that are using it or even see a demand for it. It just makes no sense that there is no end to media bashing and the government proclaiming around the amount of waste plastic we have being an ‘epidemic’ but yet when you try and get it and re-purpose it you can not.

So in that we have approached the bulk users of milk cartons being the cafe’s and they are more than happy to give it to us as its a hassle for them to store and dispose of it. I guess having a refund value you may not have the same success but if you make it easy and explain what you are doing and preventing it going to land fill you may get some positive responses. Keep on it, our Government needs a slap in the face.

@cndg : there is a working group developing such printer : Discord – we’ve got through the basics so far but have to workout some funding – at the moment we are at a 4000E invest and it’s quite hard to get it down.

By the way… the reason I’m seeking bulk HDPE is because I’m building a monster-printer – the general idea is to build “house sized” things.