Craig Reucassel in a scene from season two of War on Waste.
Craig Reucassel in a scene from season two of War on Waste.

Battle against our growing waste problem ramps up

FRESH from his Logie win, Craig Reucassel is back to help Aussies combat our growing waste problem.

Earlier this month, the War on Waste host sported an op shop suit as he accepted the award for Most Outstanding Factual or Documentary Program at the 60th annual TV awards on the Gold Coast.

"That was a nice little cherry on top," he tells The Guide.

"In some ways it's quite insulting to me that the clothes you can get from op shops is better than what I have. I think that says something about my wardrobe."

Reucassel returns to our screens next week to tackle new targets including plastic water bottles and straws, e-waste and furniture waste as well as going deeper into previously covered topics such as food waste and the recycling crisis.

The show's first season shined a spotlight on the staggering amount of waste Australians produce as a nation.

It was also the ABC's most successful social media campaign to date and spawned a follow-up episode and a hit podcast.

"I got a lot of great feedback from members of the public who have changed their habits and their approach to waste," Reucassel says.

"People seem to be really getting a sense of the plastic dilemma, and its effect on our oceans. The fundamental question is how do we stop it? I spoke to a lot of people who do beach clean-ups and they said 'We can't just keep picking it up off our beaches'."

The first episode in season two focuses on plastic waste, and specifically one-use disposable drink bottles.

Reucassel assembled a team to create a large footprint on Manley Beach made of one tonne of plastic rubbish, representing how much Aussie households throw away every minute.

In another emotional scene, he finds hundreds of plastic water bottles washed up on the banks of the Yarra River.

"That was full-on. When you're in a city like Melbourne and there's this much waste in the Yarra River it's disgraceful," he says.

"It was not just the plastic waste that shocked me; it was also the amount of polystyrene, and this stuff is getting flushed out into the ocean."

Craig Reucassel makes a giant footprint out of one tonne of plastic rubbish on Manly Beach in a scene from season two of War on Waste.
Craig Reucassel makes a giant footprint out of one tonne of plastic rubbish on Manly Beach in a scene from season two of War on Waste. ABC-TV

He also revisits the subject of recycling. Earlier this year the Ipswich City Council sensationally announced it would stop its kerbside recycling.

While that decision was later reversed after swift community backlash, it sparked a wider debate about what China's crackdown on low-quality recycling material shipped from overseas markets will mean for Australian households.

"Australia has rested on its laurels for a long time and the China situation will make us take more charge of our recycling," Reucassel says.

"I have become slightly obsessed by the waste world and there are still questions when you're trying to track where our recycling goes. There's a whole international trade and it can be quite hard to get answers as to what's happening.

"How do we ensure stuff that is recyclable is dealt with properly?

"People shouldn't stop recycling; we just need stuff to make it easier."

Season two of War on Waste premieres Tuesday at 8.30pm on ABC-TV.