Australia could almost double the amount of soft plastics recycled if two major road projects in each state used 1.5 per cent plastic content.
Australian Council of Recycling chief Pete Shmigel says more must be done to ensure governments buy more recycled materials, and wants roads agencies to line up projects that will use them.
"If we can just point on a map where we can put this stuff, we can get it fixed real quick and we don't have to go through all the rigmarole," he told a Senate inquiry on Friday.
Another 100,000 tonnes of soft plastics could be used if two road projects per state used 1.5 per cent plastic content.
This would nearly double the current amount recycled.
The government has flagged rule changes to ensure recyclables are considered in contracts.
The Senate committee is looking at proposed laws on recycling that would ban the export of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres.
The changes aim to keep 645,000 tonnes of unprocessed recyclables onshore each year that would have been shipped overseas.
The inquiry was told about health risks of discarded plastics.
"I've seen albatross sadly feeding their chicks balloons and lighters and toothbrushes. And I've seen these chicks expire because obviously they can't digest these things," marine biologist Lawrence Chlebeck said.
"As the plastics move further and further into our environment, affecting ecosystems on all kinds of levels, and it's really going to feed its way back and become more of a human health issue."
National Waste and Recycling Industry Council chief Rose Read wants the bills tweaked to ensure producers take more responsibility.
Ms Read also wants requirements for companies to increase the amount of recycled content used in their products and packaging.
WWF Australia says the proposed legislation is a missed opportunity to address single-use plastics and plastics packaging.
The group wants recycled packaging content goals to shift to mandatory product stewardship so that targets are met.
Australian Associated Press