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  • Boomerang Alliance Newsletter - December 2022

    December 2022
     

    A new Federal Government – moving from promises and policy to action?

    The Albanese Government came to power in May 2022 on a platform of change. For those of us looking for more positives on plastic pollution that meant at least a couple of things. Internationally we wanted Australia to sign a treaty on plastic pollution and to take the high ambition path proposed by the Europeans. This looks likely.

    Domestically we want the Commonwealth, as they promised in Opposition, to introduce new regulations on packaging that makes producers responsible. The recent collapse of the REDcycle collection program, has dramatically illustrated why this is essential. We also need national standards on reusable, compostable and recyclable products and packaging. The standards have to ensure that products marked as such are actually reused, composted or recycled.

    Lastly, we need more from the Commonwealth National Plastic Plan. For example the Plan announced in 2021, identified bans on oxo-degradable and polystyrene foodware and loose packaging as well as PVC labels. These were supposed to be in place in 2022. As we write nothing has been achieved. It should have a major revision, including mandatory targets.

    We are looking for more positive leadership and significant policy change from this new government and we will be working to make sure this happens.

    Jeff Angel
    Director

     
    2022: THE YEAR THAT WAS

    The good news is that all state and territory governments have now introduced or plan to introduce bans on many problem single use plastics. However, the reality is that the pace of change remains slow and could be a lot quicker. This is despite the fact that the problem of single use plastic waste is well recognised; the alternative products and practice are readily available; and the public have continued to demonstrate significant support for more action.

    This year, Western Australia continued its comprehensive policy agenda with South Australia, Queensland and the ACT adding to their policies. For the first time NSW took action, becoming the last state to ban lightweight plastic bags (July 2022) and new bans in November. Victoria followed suit and will implement bans in February 2023. Both Tasmania and the NT have promised to act before 2025.

    Some governments have published schedules and roadmaps to outline what they intend to do and when. Something we encourage all governments to do. It helps to provide time to adapt to the changes.



     
    CAMPAIGN UPDATES
     

    TWO BIG PROBLEM ITEMS FOR 2023

    The Boomerang Alliance has called on all Australian governments to introduce new policies to stop the greenwashed heavier weight shopping bags and end disposable coffee cups with lids. These are the two items we hear most about from supporters and the general public. 


    CONTAINER REFUNDS TO EXPAND?

    State and territory governments have decided to include wine, spirit, cordial and juice bottles into the successful Container Refund Schemes (CRS) across Australia. NSW is intending to be the first to act but has come up against strong lobbying from the wine industry.


    WHERE TO NOW FOR SOFT PLASTICS?

    The collapse of the REDcycle soft plastic collection service involving major supermarkets has exposed Australia's poor record on plastic recycling. Of the estimated 150,000 tonnes of soft plastic waste generated just by households every year, REDCycle was collecting about 7000 tonnes.


    PLASTIC FREE PLACES

    Our Plastic Free Places program is active across Australia and has helped businesses eliminate over 16 million pieces of single-use plastic. 2022 has been a big year for the program, but 2023 is set to be even bigger.


    LISA'S LAST NEWS ARTICLE

    Our campaigner Lisa Wriley is saying goodbye after being with the Boomerang Alliance for 12 years. "Changes didn’t just happen because governments thought it was a good idea. They happened because we kept pushing them and we made it happen."

       
     

    We would not have been able to do all these works without you, who support us by making a donation, signing a petition, sharing our social media posts and sending us words of encouragement. We still have much work to do in 2023 and we hope you will continue to support us.


     
    Please donate so we can continue our fight against plastic pollution.
     

     


  • Plastic Free Places - Highlights of 2022

    The Plastic Free Places program is now operating across all states and territories with the inclusion of our newest programs in NT and Tasmania.

    This means we’ve been able to offer support to more businesses, guiding them on what alternatives and solutions are available as they switch away from single-use plastics.

    And we've helped them eliminate over 17 million pieces of single-use plastic!

    It’s been a challenging year - with plastic bans rolling out across Australia there has also been a rise in greenwashing within the packaging industry, which we’ve had to keep on top of. We have our very own Research Officer whose job it is to ensure our team is up-to-date on any new products and their certifications, to ensure we can advise our business members correctly.

    Of course, reuse and avoidance are always at the top of our agenda, and we’ve made some great progress in that space this year with the expansion of our Reusable Champions program. Cairns, Central Queensland and WA have been leading the way in the reusables space and we look forward to seeing this expand to other jurisdictions next year. We’re also just finishing a pilot program called Reusable Hotels to be rolled out throughout Qld next year and our Reusable Offices program is also in development mode.

    We’re particularly excited about working in offices as it's an opportunity to change office culture and establish new cultural norms by implementing proven behaviour change strategies. Our aim is to show that if a workplace (as a microcosm of the community) can change, then the community itself, with the right support, can also change. We want to demonstrate that a reuse culture is possible.

    You can read more about our year and new programs in our 2022 Progress report.

    What’s new in 2023

    Our key focus in 2023 will be on implementing behaviour change strategies in our programs that increase the use of reusables and addressing other single-use plastic items still used. This includes:

    • More cafes participating in our reusable champions program.
    • Addressing back-of-house plastics with members through our new BOH champions program.
    • Programs in new locations.
    • Organics collections - working with local councils to expand organics collection services to include cafes.
    • Government buildings and offices - working to avoid and reduce single-use plastics, increase reusables, and find resource recovery markets.
    • A reusable hotels program - working with hotels to increase reusables in all areas.
    • Reusable campaigns in controlled locations, including food courts, university campuses, and sports stadiums.

    For more information on all our programs, visit www.plasticfreeplaces.org

     

    Back to December 2022 Newsletter page >>


  • Lisa’s last news article

    When the position of Waste Campaigner was advertised by the Total Environment Centre in early 2010, a friend encouraged me to apply. The job ad gave the option of working for 9 months full time or 12 months part time and Jeff Angel gave me the impression he thought the Cash for Containers (C4C) campaign would be won by then - we were that close. I chose the part-time option to suit my young family and the distance I needed to travel from Gosford. I was to spend one day a week researching organics recycling and two days a week working on the Cash for Containers campaign.

    Lisa with Jeff Angel (Boomerang Alliance Director) and the late Ian Kiernan (Clean Up Australia)My background was in environmental education and also campaigning for an end to exploitation of outworkers in the clothing industry. By June 2010 I had decided to animate the C4C campaign and Bev the Bottle was born. Her first gig was chasing Peter Garrett the then Australian environment minister in Darwin who was at an environment ministers’ meeting. She went on to visit many a waste expo, festival, sustainability event, ocean care day, O week at universities and Green Week at Ultimo TAFE. We even wrote and performed a campaign theme song: 10 cents a bottle! Thousands of postcards and petitions were signed and sent to environment ministers.

    Bev was joined by a giant coke bottle, another nine green bottle costumes, a cola can and briefly a Mt Landfill water bottle costume. In 2012 the NT introduced Cash for Containers. However, in 2013 the NT government lost to the big beverage companies in the Federal Court and the community was furious. This was a turning point for bottle refund campaigns around Australia and in 2016 NSW Premier Mike Baird announced NSW would get Container Deposit legislation - finally! One by one other states have followed and next year we will have the whole continent with cash for containers/container deposit- refund systems.

    Since then we have rallied for plastic bag bans and finally in June this year NSW prohibited the lightweight shopping bag and began its roll out of single-use plastic bans - catching up with other states and territories.

    It has been such a privilege and a lot of fun working with all the wonderful people, both paid and many more volunteers who have helped bring in these changes. I am leaving the Total Environment Centre and Boomerang Alliance after twelve years and will be continuing the work of educating for sustainability and zero waste in Central Coast schools, as well as working with the Department of Education Sustainability Team to encourage changes at a statewide level.

    When I speak to students I tell them about the work of the community to reduce the litter and plastic pollution and that all their efforts to reduce waste will make a difference. I make sure they know that these changes didn’t just happen because governments thought it was a good idea. They happened because we kept pushing them and we made it happen.

    I know that the Boomerang Alliance and all its wonderful allies and supporters will keep fighting for zero waste and an end to plastic pollution. The link between zero waste and zero emissions is made clear in a new report by GAIA which I highly recommend. The most powerful story I heard at the launch of this report was of the Zero Waste Ukraine team who have made sure that the 2 million refugees moving through Lviv have not used single-use plastic cups but have all been issued with re-usable cups for their nourishing hot drinks. Surely if they can do this in Ukraine - what are we doing here in Australia using disposable anything?

    May the force be with you!

    Lisa Wriley

     

    Back to December 2022 Newsletter page >>


  • Where to now for soft plastics?

    The collapse of the REDcycle soft plastic collection service involving major supermarkets has exposed Australia's poor record on plastic recycling. Of the estimated 150,000 tonnes of soft plastic waste generated just by households every year, REDCycle was collecting about 7000 tonnes. A tiny amount and only about 2% of households were even using the service. The remaining tonnages were ending up in landfill or litter.

    The packaging industry has made much of the REDcycle service to give the impression they were being responsible with waste - even constructing a consumer label around it, the Australian Recycling Label (ARL). This label was designed to provide consumers with information about their recycling options. "Conditionally Recyclable" for wraps (soft plastics) referred to the REDcycle collection. This was only available through the two largest supermarkets chains. Now that has come to an abrupt end - the fallacy that soft plastics recycling was effectively working in Australia has been fully revealed. ‘’Recyclable’’ does not mean recycling is actually occurring.

     

    So where to from here? Our latest advice is that the major supermarkets have been granted permission to talk to each other with the intention of establishing an alternative collection service. This may take some time, and in the meantime all soft plastics will now be going to landfill as now recommended by REDcycle and the supermarkets, with some possibly stockpiled.

    The Boomerang Alliance has put forward a number of demands.

    The first being that the supermarkets should continue to collect soft plastics for recycling and stockpile all of this until it can be recycled. Secondly, a new collection service must be introduced as soon as possible, with a firm date.

    Thirdly, the ultimate solution lies with the Commonwealth Government which has permitted the packaging industry to voluntarily manage their waste problems and then failed to fix their lack of action. The industry has even admitted they won't meet the 2025 targets they set for themselves. It's time for the Government to introduce mandatory targets on plastic waste reduction and recycled content in products, thus making producers responsible for their wastes. A well designed scheme will force producers not just to design for recycling but also to avoid, reduce or reuse the plastics they currently profit from.

    In December 2020 during a parliamentary debate on waste legislation when Labor were in Opposition, they even promised to introduce such a scheme if gaining government. Labor are now in government and need to act swiftly and not grant industry an extension beyond 2025.

    Ironically, the week before the REDCycle collapse, the Boomerang Alliance received advice from the Commonwealth Government officials rejecting our submission to introduce mandatory targets for packaging. They told us that plastic packaging is already being addressed under current voluntary arrangements!

    The Commonwealth needs to wake up to the reality that without regulated targets on plastic reductions and recovery, this waste and the damage it causes, will never be properly addressed. We have had voluntary industry action for over 20 years. The Government would be mad to assume that more of the same will lead to a different outcome.

     

    Back to December 2022 Newsletter page >>


  • Container Refunds to expand?

    State and territory governments have decided to include wine, spirit, cordial and juice bottles into the successful Container Refund Schemes (CRS) across Australia. This follows a joint letter we organised with the Australian Beverages Council, National Retailers Association, RELOOP, Australian Recyclers Association and Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association.

    NSW is intending to be the first to act but has come up against strong lobbying from the wine industry. Their arguments about cost have minimal substance and appear to echo the position taken by the likes of Coke and Lion when they opposed the introduction of CRS.

    There is no doubt inclusion of more glass bottles will have a range of benefits. A review by South Australia, found that their involvement allows much more significant high value use and insignificant landfilling, compared to being left in kerbside bins. And in NSW alone, it would mean more than $40m extra dollars each year in refunds to the community.

    Boomerang is also keen to further include plain milk and health tonics. They were originally left out due to cost of living concerns, but CRS do not impose a meaningful impact, especially if the household obtains the refund.

    With Victoria and Tasmania coming into the system next year, Australia will become the first continent to be fully covered by CRS and with one of the most comprehensive coverage of drink containers. Then there is the issue of refunds for refillables and non-beverage containers to further grow the circular economy…our targets for campaigns in 2023.

     

    Back to December 2022 Newsletter page >>


  • Two Big Problem items for 2023

    The Boomerang Alliance has called on all Australian governments to introduce new policies to stop the greenwashed heavier weight shopping bags and end disposable coffee cups with lids. These are the two items we hear most about from supporters and the general public. Five jurisdictions have bans or announced intentions on these two items to date.

    Reusable Shopping Bags

    We are proposing the adoption of a reusable shopping bag standard based upon a Californian approach, also widely used in Europe. All retailers from 2024 would only be allowed to provide and sell bags to customers that meet this standard (stopping the current proliferation of bags slightly thicker than the banned ones with REUSABLE emblazoned on them).

    To be reusable, a bag should be independently tested against a 125 shopping cycle requirement, labelled as reusable, be strong and durable with industrially stitched handles, a minimum thickness (we recommend 100 microns), have minimum 80% recycled content; and priced to encourage habitual use. Bags need to be collected at end of life for recycling by retail outlets.

    Coffee Cups and Lids

    Disposable coffee cups and lids, whatever they are made of, are not collected and recovered. They are littered or landfilled. It is a most obvious takeaway item where reusable/BYO alternatives can become common place.

    We want all state/territory governments to set a national goal to phase-out all single-use coffee cups and lids by 2030 with these being replaced by reusable cups instead.

    To achieve this all cafes and food outlets who offer takeaway tea and coffee should also offer or sell reusable cups and lids. We have called for a levy on all disposable cups and lids. The combination of available reusables with a levy on disposables should be an effective incentive. Many European countries are introducing reusables or levies on disposable cups now, so the precedent for these policies exists.

    After 2024 no plastic takeaway coffee cups/lids would be allowed and only non-plastic or home compostable items after 2026, with a complete phase out by 2030.

    In September the Boomerang Alliance, Clean Up Australia and the Australian Marine Conservation Society asked supporters what they thought of these ideas.

    TOTAL RESPONSES: 5400 YES NO NO ANSWER
    % Total % Total % Total
    Should all cafes and restaurants that sell hot beverages be required to also offer or sell reusable cups and lids? 89.35% 4825 10.54% 569 0.11 6
    Should single-use cups and lids be banned at major events like festival and sports events? 87.70% 4736 11.96% 646 0.34% 18
    Should a levy (eg. 25 cents) on all single use disposable cups and lids be introduced? 81.94% 4425 17.61% 951 0.45% 24
    Would you support a refund scheme (similar to containers) for reusable coffee cups and lids? 86.22% 4656 13.28% 717 0.50% 27
    Should all single-use disposable coffee cups and lids be banned in the future? 89.5% 4833 9.96% 538 0.54% 29

     

    Back to December 2022 Newsletter page >>


  • ABC Illawarra - Interview with Jeff Angel

    Jeff Angel discussed the Container Deposit Scheme expansion and the REDcycle soft plastic recycling collapse with Melinda James from ABC Illawarra.

    Read more

  • REDcycle Collapse Exposes Packaging Industry Flaws

    The collapse of the REDcycle soft plastics recycling scheme and "secret stockpiling" has revealed deeper problems that must be fixed if the community is to have confidence in plastics recycling.

    Read more

  • Container Refund Scheme Expansion - States Line up

    With NSW, the ACT, SA and Qld announcing proposed extension of the 10c refund schemes and more jurisdictions to follow – the Boomerang Alliance of 55 NGOs looks forward to hundreds of millions of more drink containers being recycled and an extra $150m each year into the pockets of households and charities in 2023.

    Read more

  • Stopping Plastic Pollution: Urgent focus for Environment Ministers at first meeting

        

    The Boomerang Alliance and its allies are calling on the Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments to step up action to phase-out polluting single-use plastics and stop greenwash at their 21 October meeting, the first since the election of the ALP government.

    Read more

  • published Single-use coffee cups on the agenda in Latest News 2022-10-19 08:26:46 +1100

    Single-use coffee cups on the agenda

    Leading Australian environmental groups have urged federal and state governments to target coffee cup pollution, when Australia’s environment ministers meet on Friday 21 October.

    Read more

  • Drink Container Refund expansion - an essential move

    Environment, resource recovery and retail industry groups today welcomed NSW government support to increase the types of drinks and containers that will be covered by the successful 10cent refund schemes. They called on all state environment ministers who are meeting next Friday, to move quickly as it makes great recycling, business and community sense to do so.

    Read more

  • published Help to ditch plastic scourge in Latest News 2022-10-11 14:14:08 +1100

    Help to ditch plastic scourge

    Businesses will be able to get free advice from environment professionals as the city continues its push to phase out single-use plastics.

    Read more

  • published Coffee Cups Survey 2022-09-12 08:57:47 +1000

    Time to make a switch to reusable coffee cups

    In the next two years plastic coffee cups and lids will be subjected to new rules across the European Union and the UK. Some countries such as Germany will be introducing laws that all cafes offer or sell reusable cups and lids. Other countries are planning a levy on all disposable cups and lids.

    With the exception of Western Australia, very little is happening in this country despite the fact that we use an estimated 1.8 billion disposable coffee cups every year. Hardly any of which are ever recovered or recycled, most get littered or landfilled.

    The Boomerang Alliance and our allies are proposing a national policy on coffee cups and lids based upon actions being taken overseas. We want to see plastic coffee cups phased out by 2024, every cafe offering or selling reusable cups and lids AND a levy imposed on all disposable coffee cups and lids. We think this is the incentive we need to make reusable and BYO cups and lids common place.

    Read our Position Statement on Single-Use Coffee Cups and Lids.

    We would like to know what you think and asked you to complete a short survey on coffee cups. The survey has now been completed and joining forces with the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) and Clean Up Australia, we had 5400 supporters completed the survey. We plan to use the results to persuade our governments to act (at last) to get rid of disposable coffee cup litter and waste. 

    Read our Media Release

     

    COFFEE CUPS SURVEY RESULT

    Take the survey

  • Time to make a switch to reusable coffee cups

    In the next two years plastic coffee cups and lids will be subjected to new rules across the European Union and the UK. Some countries such as Germany will be introducing laws that all cafes offer or sell reusable cups and lids. Other countries are planning a levy on all disposable cups and lids.

    Read more

  • published EPA NSW single-use plastic ban 1 November 2022-09-06 10:57:26 +1000

  • Plastic Free Champion shows the way for Top End foodies

    Darwin’s cafes, restaurants and mobile food vendors are making a significant change to their takeaway menus to help reduce the problem of plastic waste.

    Read more

  • Queensland Container Refund Scheme under the microscope

    Environmentalists today welcomed the forthcoming review of the state’s Container Refund Scheme, calling for root and branch assessment of the governance, consumer convenience and recycling outcomes.

    Read more

  • NSW EPA supports disposable polluting plastics

    In a seriously short sighted move, the NSW Environment Protection Authority has breached the Parliament’s ban on plastic bowls and plates, by exempting such disposable products that are plastic lined.

    Read more

  • Boomerang Alliance congratulates Western Australia on Plastic Bans

    July 1, 2022, marks the first day the ban on certain polluting single use plastics in Western Australia is implemented. It means that heavyweight plastics bags, polystyrene food ware, plastic cutlery, straws, cups, plates, and bowls are no longer able to be supplied in the State.

    Read more

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