The Big Issue : Edition 563
14 THEBIGISSUE.ORG.AU 1–14 JUN 2018 6AM TUESDAY IT’S BARELY LIGHT, the pink sky still has dark edges. A sound cuts through the pre-peak-hour quiet. A loud crash, shrill beeping and the grunt of machinery. It’s rubbish day, and hulking council recycling trucks are navigating my narrow suburban street. I put a pillow over my head and go back to sleep. By the time I leave for work, all the bins on the street are empty. I never used to give it much thought, where my rubbish goes. But this morning I stand in the driveway looking down at my recycling bin; it’s on its side, yellow lid hanging like a tongue onto the road. The news has been littered recently with articles about an ominous sounding policy out of China called “National Sword”. Once you push past the nationalistic euphemisms, it’s quite simple. China is placing firm restrictions on the recycling waste it imports from other countries, including Australia, effectively stopping the practice altogether. This announcement was followed by reports that local councils don’t have the capacity to deal with increased costs and processes involved in managing our own rubbish, including Ipswich Council in Queensland saying they will have to dump recyclables in landfill (they later reversed that decision). “Well, what’s going to happen to all this plastic?” asks one woman in my building’s bin bay, clutching a bulging bag of rubbish. “Maybe I shouldn’t bother recycling, if they’re just going to chuck it away.” ILLUSTRATIONSBYJESSICASINGH(JESSICASINGH.COM) WASTE NOT, WANT NOT How does Australia deal with all its plastic? It’s an issue that this country is finally having to face. But, as Katherine Smyrk found out, it’s not all crisis – there is great opportunity here, too.