As a result of efforts made by Wildlife Queensland and the Boomerang Alliance, we have seen some light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to recycling and plastic reductions.
Environmental election promises
One of the key things the Morrison Government has promised includes a $100 million investment in a National Recycling Industry Fund. This is important to developing a better recycling industry in Australia and not exporting our plastic wastes to other countries.
The other positives include:
- $20 million investment in plastic recycling
- $16 million to assist our Pacific neighbours clean up plastic
- $5 million to support volunteer litter clean ups in Australia.
“These initiatives are a start, and we are particularly pleased that the government is increasing support for plastic litter clean ups. Clean ups directly prevent further pollution and harm to wildlife. However, what we really need are initiatives that avoid the plastic litter and waste problems in the first place,” said Wildlife Queensland Campaigns Officer, Toby Hutcheon.
Our campaign to ban lightweight plastic bags led to an 80% reduction in the use of plastic bags in Australia. We now need the Commonwealth to set a date to phase out a range of other single-use problem plastic takeaway items:
- coffee cups and lids
- plastic containers
- plastic cutlery
- water bottles.
These are products regularly in the top 10 most littered items in Australia. They are all items that have available alternatives, either as reusables or as 100% compostable products.
“Setting a date to phase out these products simply pushes us to use those alternatives and will reduce litter and environmental harm. The government wants all plastic packaging to be reusable, compostable or recyclable by 2025. Phasing out single-use plastic takeaway will contribute to making that happen,” said Toby.
The next steps against waste: update
A new guide on Plastic Free Council Events will be released shortly by the Boomerang Alliance. It has been produced in response to Queensland local government decisions to develop plastic free policies for operations and events and to support a call to ban the deliberate release of helium balloons.
Wildlife Queensland has provided input into this and is pleased to report that it does include a policy to not allow the release of helium balloons at council events. We encourage all councils to adopt such a policy.
Now that the dust has settled on the election, a meeting of the countries Environment Ministers should be scheduled soon. We expect that meeting to include proposals from Queensland on the future of thicker plastic bags.