McDonald’s takes a knife to plastic waste
McDonald's will use the first national plastics summit to announce a move to wooden cutlery while Nestle will reveal plans to collect biscuit packets and bread bags from more than 100,000 households.
Maccas' pledge will stop 585 tonnes of plastic going into landfill each year.
Nestle's trial will collect 750 tonnes of so-called "soft plastic" that could end up going into road base or playground equipment, as already happens with shopping bags returned to Woolworths and Coles.
"We know that soft plastics is an area that needs greater focus and collaboration," said Nestle Australia CEO Sandra Martinez. "We need to find ways to drive more recycling here."
Soft plastics make up 20 per cent of what goes in to household bins.
Some of that incorrectly ends up in the recycling, said iQ Renew CEO Danial Gallagher, who is developing the trial for Nestle.
"Most material recovery facilities can't separate soft plastic from other items in household recycling, so while soft plastic can be recycled, what we lack is a robust, scalable system to collect and process it using existing kerbside collection," Mr Gallagher said.
"We've designed the trial so that at the front end, it will support householders to pre-sort their soft plastic and get it into a recycling stream, while behind the scenes, we'll test using the sorted soft plastic as a resource in a range of different manufacturing processes," he said.
Getting Australia to better manage its use of plastic is a personal passion for Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
China's decision to ban imports of recyclables from Australia has only increased the need for action.
Australia had been sending about 187,000 tonnes of plastic waste to China annually.
Last year, the federal and state governments agreed to stop sending waste offshore by June 2022.
The summit, to begin on Monday, will look at how to:
* reduce the volume of plastic being produced;
* increase the amount that is recycled; and
* find new ways to reuse what is collected.
A school student taskforce will also report its ideas to the summit.
Environment Minister Sussan Ley said children were leading the change in attitudes.
"I see it in primary school kids," Ms Ley said. "They are educating their family members."
She said the summit was the "first time the community, all levels of government and industry were ready to step up" and tackle plastic waste.
Sydney mother Sarah Egan said she hoped other big companies would follow the McDonald's example.
"I think it's fantastic that a corporate giant like McDonalds is taking this step to be more environmentally friendly," Ms Egan said as her boys Jimmy, 5, and Sean, 3, tucked into hotcakes with the wooden cutlery that will soon be in all 900-plus stores.