While he’s waiting in the wings to perform the role of celebrity guest speaker at the wildlife event of the year – Wildlife Matters: In a Climate of Change – we thought we’d ask Jon Dee (of DoSomething and ABC’s War on Waste) to answer a few key questions on waste,
in his expert opinion…
What is the most pressing waste issue we face in Australia today?
The key waste issue is how inefficient we are in the way we produce our goods and services. We use far more energy than we need to and we’re very inefficient in the way we use materials.
And to top it all off, we throw too much away instead of finding ways to bring that waste material back into use in new products. It’s an approach that needs to urgently change.
While WPSQ is very pleased with the recent success of its campaign to ban the single-use plastic bag in Queensland, it acknowledges the ban as merely the first step in the right direction. How significant do you think these bans are?
The ban on plastic bags in Queensland needs to learn from the bans in South Australia, the NT, ACT and Tasmania. Though they’ve gotten rid of the thin lightweight plastic bag and plastic bag use has gone down, some companies have just replaced thin plastic bags with free thicker plastic bags. At the very least, the Minister needs to ensure that all thin plastic bags are banned and a 15 cent charge is placed on the thicker bags. That way, people will have an incentive to bring their own reusable bags.
Appreciating that the Premier of your home state of New South Wales, Gladys Berejiklian has indicated very recently that she has no intention of banning the single-use plastic bag, can you comment on the mass release of helium balloons seemingly being a priority over a bag ban down south?
I don’t think it’s a matter of it being a priority. Most environment ministers don’t have much clout and they go for the easiest change that will bring about the least opposition. I think that’s how the helium balloon ban came about. Not many people use them and very few people would have noticed they were banned.
What is one important fact about recycling that you feel the wider community may not be aware of?
The important fact about recycling is the need to make sure that all supermarket packaging is recyclable. At the moment it’s not. That’s a big failure by the buyers at Coles and Woolworths. They need to insist that any product they sell should have packaging that is easy to recycle.
The other key thing that bugs me are products like Nespresso coffee pods. Their recycling initiative is very poor and has been found in the past to be misleading. It’s a single-use product that has a very poor recycling rate – we need to promote the better reusable alternatives that don’t end up so quickly in landfill.
What is the single most powerful thing each of us can and should be doing to manage waste in our homes, if we aren’t already?
It’s the simple basics. Compost whatever you can, recycle the things that are recyclable and throw the least amount possible in the bin. It’s common sense really.