Say goodbye to single-use plastic in the ACT

 

The ACT Government is seeking community feedback on a proposal to ban single-use plastics. This is a welcome step to address plastic pollution but a lot more needs to be done if we are really going to make a difference.

 

Plastic pollution is a significant problem we face in the ACT and it is high time we take responsibility to reduce our plastic footprint. We see single-use plastics everywhere: in the home, workplace, waterways, city parks and even our natural reserves.

Plastics are a threats to wildlife in the environment. Some detrimental threats include:

  • Mistaken consumption of plastic due to their resemblance to natural food sources which can result in death (e.g. plastic bags and bottle tops)
  • Physical injury or death (e.g. plastic fishing nets and bottle rings)
  • Subversion of the natural ecosystem function (e.g. prevent light penetrating ocean waters). (1)

We can no longer afford to continue using single-use plastics at the current rate, especially when we can take simple regulatory, community and personal steps to reduce our plastic footprint. The ACT has demonstrated leadership and influenced the national debate on a range of environment and waste issues. 

It is time to take the lead and give up our love affair with single-use plastics.

Phasing out single-use plastics discussion paper is open for consultation until the end of July 2019. Complete the survey to have your say about single-use plastics in the ACT.

What do we mean by ‘single-use plastics’?

Common types of unnecessary, avoidable or replaceable single-use plastic items addressed in the Phasing out single-use plastics discussion paper include:

  • plastic bags (including those that are biodegradable and compostable)
  • bottles
  • straws
  • disposable containers
  • disposable coffee cups
  • lids
  • straws
  • cutlery.

Did you know?

 

Half of all plastics produced are designed to be used just once and then thrown away (1)

 

It is estimated that globally 95 per cent of plastic packaging material is lost annually after a short first use – with a value of approximately $110-$165 billion (2)

 

In Australia, about 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste was generated in 2016-17. This roughly equates to 103 kg of plastic waste per person annually. Of this, 12 per cent was recycled, 87 per cent was sent to landfill and one per cent was sent to an energy-from-waste facility (3)

Areas the government needs to address

 

In the ACT, we need to do a lot more to reduce our plastic footprint. The Conservation Council is concerned that the ACT Government’s Phasing out single-use plastics Discussion paper is too quiet about the following types of plastic pollution:

Newspapers wrapped in plastic

The Chronicle is an ACT newspaper which continues to wrap its newspapers in single use plastic – a redundant and completely unacceptable practice. It would not be difficult for the ACT government to ban this single-use in plastic through regulation and compliance. The Conservation Council thinks  Government must address this form of plastic pollution immediately.

Supermarket packaging

The discussion paper does not mention plastic packaging in supermarkets. The wrapping of fresh produce is an outdated concept which needs to be addressed in the ACT.

ACT Government consultation sessions

Community information session:
Tuesday 18 June 2019 06:00 PM – 08:00 PM
Hellenic Club Canberra, Matilda Street, Phillip

Business information session:
Tuesday 25 June 2019 07:00 AM – 09:00 AM
Rydges Capital Hill, Canberra Avenue, Forrest

References

(1) https://www.unenvironment.org/interactive/beat-plastic-pollution/

(2) Andrew Macintosh, Amelia Simpson and Teresa Neeman (2018) Regulating Plastic Shopping Bags in the Australian Capital Territory: Plastic Shopping Bags Ban Act 2010 Options Analysis, Australian National University, Canberra, p 48

(3) Andrew Macintosh, Amelia Simpson and Teresa Neeman (2018) Regulating Plastic Shopping Bags in the Australian Capital Territory: Plastic Shopping Bags Ban Act 2010 Options Analysis, Australian National University, Canberra, p 44.