Have your say: Senate inquiry into marine plastic pollution

The Senate is currently conducting an inquiry into the threat of marine plastic pollution in Australia. This is the opportunity for the community, either as individuals or groups, to provide important feedback on the way plastic pollution impacts marine life and to highlight your concerns by reflecting on your own experiences.

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A submission may be as short or as long as you like. It may contain facts, opinions, arguments or recommendations. Supporting documents may be attached. Don’t feel that you need to address all of the issues raised by the inquiry. Short, concise submissions that focus on a small number of issues and give detailed examples can be more valuable than long detailed responses.

You may want to use the dot points included in the template letter below to help you write your own submission but it’s really important to personalise it. Use your own words as much as possible and include your own local experiences.

Add information about litter found locally (How much litter is found? Where is it found? What is the extent of the problem?). You might also want to include images demonstrating the litter.

Add your opinions regarding the impact of litter (Concerns about wildlife? Impact on human health (i.e. lacerations)? Economic impact for local businesses?)

Add your opinions on the proposed solutions (Any further suggestions? Data which would contribute toward the implementation of any of the proposed solutions?)

You can send your submission by email (ec.sen@aph.gov.au) or upload it directly to the Parliament of Australia's website here.

Don't waste time, submissions will be accepted until 9 October 2015 and the Senate will report by 8 April 2016.

Thanks for being part of this,

Jeff and the Boomerang Alliance team


TEMPLATE SUBMISSION

Dear Secretary,

Thank you for the opportunity to provide a submission to this inquiry. The problems and threats posed by marine debris, in particular plastic debris, are of great concern to me and I urge you to act decisively to recommend urgent action to address these growing problems.

The threat of marine plastic pollution in Australia and Australian waters

  • Marine plastic pollution is a growing global threat to biodiversity and is already having a devastating impact on the Australian environment with significant potential to disrupt our lifestyle and lead to substantial economic loss.

  • Practical, effective and comprehensive government action could eliminate much of the marine debris found across the Australian coastal and estuarine environments.

  • The CSIRO found that around 75% of marine debris is plastic and generated locally (1).

The products and materials that represent the major sources of marine plastic pollution

  • The single largest point of plastic litter and marine debris is beverage sector waste, with plastic bottles, along with lids, straws, cups etc. representing around half of the material (by volume) of the litter stream and some 60% of all plastic rubbish recovered along our beaches and waterways (2).

  • Consumption of single use plastic bags is over 5 billion a year and the amount of plastic bags entering the litter stream each year is likely to be as high as 150 million bags p.a (3). Plastic bags can migrate quickly and long distances, and are often mistaken by marine life for food such as jellyfish.

  • Microplastics, including nurdles (the plastic resin balls from which plastic products are manufactured) and microbeads (eg, plastic exfoliants in cleansers), were for example found at ‘alarming’ levels in 27 sites across Sydney Harbour, with concentrations ranging from 0-10 to a high of 61-100 particles per 100ml of sediment in Middle Harbour (4). Such plastic particles are prevalent from urban areas.

The impacts of marine plastic pollution, including impacts on species and ecosystems, fisheries, small business, and human health

  • Marine life suffer starvation from ingestion of plastics (mistaken as food such as plankton), illness from toxic chemicals released from ingestion of plastics, entanglement and injury from plastic rubbish with indirect impacts across the food chain up to humans. Microplastics act as sponges for toxic chemicals and last for a long time.

The Solutions

  • A Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) would reduce beverage litter of the marine environment by 60% and almost triple bottle and cans recycling rates to 85%. Newspolls demonstrate 85% of the public is in support of a CDS (5).

  • Banning plastic bags and microbeads in cleansing products would have a significant impact on the amount of plastic that enters the marine environment and effectively target those plastics that are most likely to be mistaken as a source of food

  • Improved stewardship within the plastics industry would address the nurdle problem at its factory source by preventing them entering the stormwater system.

  • Polling conducted for Total Environment Centre and Boomerang Alliance found that 69% of people are concerned about the environmental impacts of plastic (6).

Please act promptly. Our environment and community deserve this.

Yours sincerely,

Your name:

Your phone number:

Your postal address:

 

(1) Britta Denise Hardesty, Senior Research Scientist for CSIRO: ‘We found about three-quarters of the rubbish along the coast is plastic.’ http://www.csiro.au/en/News/News-releases/2014/Plastic-on-the-coasts-is-ours

(2) National Litter Index

(3) About 2-3% are littered (CleanUp Australia).

(4)http://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/prod/parlment/publications.nsf/0/14EBAE23F46BE9B2CA257E0A00188305/$File/Pollution%20in%20Sydney%20Harbour.pdf

(5) Standard question: “Thinking now about recycling and litter. South Australia currently has a deposit and refund scheme, where 10 cents is added to the cost of bottled and canned drinks. The 10 cents is refunded, when people return empty bottles and cans to recycling collection points, mostly located at major shopping centres. It’s been suggested the government should introduce a similar scheme around Australia, to encourage recycling and reduce litter. Are you personally in favour or against the government introducing this type of deposit and refund scheme for bottles and cans throughout Australia? UNFOLD IF IN FAVOUR Is that strongly in favour or partly in favour?”

(6) Omnipoll, July 2015


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  • commented 2015-09-23 08:46:57 +1000
    I made a submission on 9 September 2015.

    I stated that there was a need to concentrate on reducing the incidence of plastic at its source with measures that include:

    • a container deposit scheme which will give the containers a value whereas in our state of NSW they have no value as yet when the contents are consumed;

    • programs and legislation to encourage businesses to reduce the excessive use of plastic wrapping such as the current practices for wrapping of vegetables, fruits and other commodities; and

    • the introduction of plastic bag free legislation and policies.

    I am not happy with the proposed container deposit scheme being considered by the NSW Government. I would much prefer that the scheme encompassed much more than the vending machine approach.
  • commented 2015-09-10 09:37:36 +1000
    There’s money in muck! With a bit of applied ingenuity, it could be solved at a profit.
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