SCEC collaborates with the Boomerang Alliance, Surfrider Foundation and Noosa Community Biosphere to enhance plastic waste policies in Queensland.
SCEC along with many others were thrilled when campaign efforts were rewarded with the unanimous passage of the Waste Reduction and Recycling Amendment Bill through the Queensland Parliament. The bill confirms a Plastic Bag Ban and Container Refund Scheme (CRS) was introduced into Queensland in July 2018. These new policies represent the most significant litter and plastic pollution measures introduced into Queensland in generations. It's a great leap forward for litter reduction, recycling and collection (and the creation of jobs that go with this) and for community organisations who can make money from collecting bottles and cans.The DEHP has released factsheets about the CRS and bag ban which outlines how they will operate and what they cover. For more resources on plastic pollution, head on over to the Boomerang Alliance website here.
Container Deposit Scheme
Queensland's container refund scheme, Containers for Change, gives people an incentive to collect and return eligible containers to a container refund point for recycling, in exchange for a 10-cent refund payment.
The scheme helps to:
- Reduce the amount of drink containers that are littered
- Increase Queensland’s recycling rate
It also provides benefits to social enterprises and communities across the state by creating new job, recycling and fundraising opportunities.
Container Refund Scheme points available on the Sunshine Coast can be found in Buderim, Caloundra, Kawana, Maroochydore, Moololaba and Mountain Creek.
Plastic Bag Ban
It is estimated that some 180 million bags enter the Australian environment every year. That's 5.8 bags a second.
Studies have shown that plastic bags pose one of the greatest impacts to ocean wildlife. There is increasing evidence to show that even though only a small percentage of bags are littered, they break up into smaller and smaller pieces – having devastating impacts on the environment. This includes so-called ‘biodegradable’ bags, which are just as dangerous in the marine environment.
Plastic pollution is a major threat to wildlife. Globally it is estimated that 1 million seabirds and over 100,000 mammals die every year as a result of plastic ingestion or entanglement. Of great concern are the secondary micro-plastics derived from broken up plastic bags and bottles.
The CSIRO Marine Debris Report 2014 estimated there are over 124 billion individual pieces of visible plastic littering the Australian coastline, as well as a large legacy of plastic from previous years which has broken down to micro-plastic particles. It is evident that urgent action needs to be taken on multiple fronts.
How has SCEC been involved?
SCEC has been working with a number of organisations to raise awareness among the community about single-use plastic use and the impact it has on the marine environment. Below are some of the initiatives SCEC have been involved in:
- Working with the Boomerang Alliance since 2015 to raise awareness in the community about the benefits of a Container Deposit Scheme and total plastic bag ban through a media stunt at Noosa Main Beach in January 2016.
- Ensuring World Environment Day (WED) Festival is a single-use-plastic free event! Something we're very proud of!
- Incorporating plastic into displays, craft workshops and art installations at WED Festival as an informative tool for education.
- Incorporating the Unity Water hydration station and reusable drinking canisters for guests at WED Festival.
- Attending the launch of the Boomerang Alliance Threat Abatement Plan on Marine Plastic.
- Speaking on the panel at the Sunshine Coast Council screening of 'A Plastic Ocean.'
- Writing a submission on the discussion paper on the Waste Reduction and Recycling Amendment Bill 2017.
- Working with the Plastic Free Noosa campaign team to bring about powerful local change in the community.
Plastic Free Noosa
Plastic Free Noosa, a campaign initiated by the Boomerang Alliance, was officially launched on Monday 2nd October 2017 at the Noosa Biosphere Day. Plastic Free Noosa's aim is to reduce the Noosa community's use of disposable, single-use-plastic items such as coffee cups and lids, straws, takeaway containers, food ware and plastic water bottles.
The initiative will engage with the retail and hospitality sector, as well as market, festival and event organisers. Plastic Free Noosa aims to encourage the take-up of reusable containers and packaging. Where this is impractical, a switch to commercially compostable alternatives may be possible. If you would like to get involved or read more about the campaign, please visit Plastic Free Noosa
Ban on Single-use Plastics
SCEC joined the call for a ban on single-use plastics and encouraged the community to have their say, which culminated in responses from nearly 20,000 Queenslanders and businesses. Some of the key consultation findings include:
- 94% supported a ban on single-use plastic straws, plates, cutlery and stirrers
- there is strong support for banning other single-use plastic products, like takeaway plastic and polystyrene containers and cups
- 90% agreed that a start date after 1 July 2021 was sufficient time to introduce the ban
- 80% agreed that more voluntary action to reduce single-use plastics would help reduce plastic pollution, supported by education and awareness campaigns.
Following consultation, it was agreed that a start date after 1 July 2021 would be sufficient time for business, industry and other impacted groups to prepare for the ban.
Legislation is being amended to allow for selected single-use plastic products to be banned and once passed, the ban and its start date will be confirmed.
An implementation plan and timeframes will also be developed in consultation with stakeholders, along with a plan to communicate the ban to Queenslanders and businesses.