Now the Real Work Begins …
Sorry we are a little late with this week’s blog; we’ve been on a whirlwind tour launching our Threat Abatement Plan (TAP) to cut 70% of all Marine Plastic Pollution by 2020 and testing some of the key concepts and campaigns underpinning it. We would like to thank the over 5,000 friends and allies that responded to our blogs and undertook our polls – the feedback was fantastic!
It’s important we understand that the TAP itself is centred around the policy applications and agenda for government and industry; so, it’s strictly for nerds like me.. The sexy part is how we are going to transition into the solutions phase where the initiatives get taken up by communities to start a revolution around eliminating every possible source of plastic polluting our oceans!!
We’ll continue to push our long-term core campaigns: for Container Deposit Systems - with Victoria and Tasmania left to go; and we are still waiting for NSW, Victoria and WA to ban single use plastic bags.
Barring Victoria, every state and territory has now taken some concrete steps to tackle plastic in our oceans and coasts – Qld and the ACT have committed to join SA and the NT who have both a Container Deposit System (CDS) and a ban on single use plastic bags; Tasmania has had a bag ban in place since 2013; NSW and Western Australia are introducing a CDS. Even the Commonwealth is accelerating its program to voluntarily phase out products containing microbeads to July 2017. Combined, these initiatives will see the amount of plastic litter entering our waterways drop by some 32.4%. Yet successive Victorian Governments have done absolutely nothing in 14 years –increasing their plastic footprint over this term by at least 100%!
What is it with the Andrews Government in Victoria? Does the Premier have some sort of vendetta against Sea Lions, or maybe it’s just that he’s hoping the bags will further endanger the Weedy Sea Dragon and he’ll be able to opt for a more macho marine icon for the state?
So, Victoria becomes our first priority. Jeff Angel, Our Director/Convenor, was in Melbourne on Thursday, testifying before an Upper House Inquiry into Greens MP Nina Springle’s excellent legislative package to ban not only single use plastic bags and products containing microbeads; but also requiring fresh food packaging to justify its existence or be prohibited too. Jeff told the Committee that far from being the cleanest state, Victoria is the dirtiest and is facing significant challenges to both its marine biodiversity and economy if it doesn’t start acting. If you’d like to volunteer to help us with the Victorian Campaign, or get your local group involved you can email our Victorian Campaigner Annett Finger (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Like you, we are growing frustrated by the lack of progress on banning single use plastic bags and other frivolous plastics that are a threat to our ocean; and it’s becoming clear that the big states and the Commonwealth fear push back from the big retailers – particularly Woolworths, who are increasingly replacing Coca Cola as the corporate bullys lobbying against their customer’s wishes.
So we’ll be launching our ReUse / Refuse campaign nationally, where we’ll ask our extended supporter base of some 8million people to not only refuse plastic bags and other plastic disposables, but to politely tell the store that from Plastic Free July you’ll be forced to start shopping at a retailer that has phased out single use plastics. We’re looking for groups to man stalls outside of major shopping centres all over the country handing out postcards and maybe forming a Boomerang Bags group in your local area. We’ll tell you a little more about this campaign next week but if you’d like to get involved please email Lisa Wriley (email@example.com)
We’ll also look to complete the trial of our Communities Taking Control program in Byron Shire and in the new year, will be looking to spread the word to progressive coastal municipalities that want to reduce their community’s plastic footprint. Communities Taking Control is a unique program where we engage with community groups, businesses and the local council to form a covenant where the community pledges to take a series of actions (including prohibiting single use bags) to reduce the amount of plastic pollution their towns release into the marine environment. Practically focussed, we seek to start at the level where everybody is comfortable, then work with a business coach to mentor the businesses and a branded education program centred around the alternatives to single use plastics to help educate residents understand why the changes have happened.
To ensure that major retailers don’t receive any advantage if they don’t participate, we’ll be working with councils to develop a template ‘Planning for Plastics’ regime where all commercial and industrial planning applications are required to meet a standard of operation that ensures they minimise plastic use and capture any remnant plastic waste within their facilities. You can see more about Planning for Plastics in one of our recent blogs here .
Anthony Lazzaro will be active with our investigations, starting up our program The Fugitives in February. The Fugitives is a program where we’ll systematically look at each step of the plastic production and disposal chains, seeking to identify each process where plastics are escaping facilities and then using that example to produce a guidance note for other businesses in the industry. Wherever possible we’ll work collaboratively with responsible business and are hoping to celebrate Plastic Free July by releasing a comprehensive manual on where fugitive plastic waste occurs and the necessary steps to eliminate them. For those of you with an engineering bent you might like to join the Fugitive Investigation Team by emailing Anthony (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Finally, we’ll be bringing our work over the past 6 months and campaign progress to a conference we’ll hold in May next year where we hope to bring together the many groups working on the problem of plastics – not just from Australia but across the South West Pacific with representative groups from SE Asia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Stay tuned to find out more about the exciting program we have in mind.
So, while it’s a great relief to have our Threat Abatement Plan out, the real work starts now – after some huge wins over the course of 2016 we’re confident that with your support we can cut 70% of Marine Plastic Pollution by 2020.