Rianti Bieler

  • published National Packaging Solution in Campaigns 2023-09-20 15:53:39 +1000

    National Packaging Solution

    Packaging producers must take full responsibility and pay for packaging waste & pollution.

    The Boomerang Alliance is challenging the packaging industry to take full responsibility and pay for the costs of its waste and pollution decisions.

    Ahead of the Commonwealth Government promising to introduce a Mandatory Product Stewardship Scheme for Packaging by 2025, we have released our model guidelines based on International best practice.

    These include stringent Extended Producer Responsibility requirements where product manufacturers take full responsibility for their products, from the design stage through to end of life. This allows for products to be collected, recovered and reused rather than being littered or discarded in landfill.



    We demand a circular economy approach to packaging which involves the whole supply chain, with producers directly accountable for meeting stringent reduction, recovery and recycled content targets.

    National actions required to achieve a best practice circular economy for packaging:


    The soft plastics collection crisis, following the REDcycle collapse, is an example of an industry currently failing to take responsibility for its own packaging waste.

    Given Australia’s alarmingly low national plastic packaging recycling rates (approx. 12%), major reform is urgently required and must include extended producer responsibility principles, similar to what is being applied to container refund schemes.

    Container refund schemes are now active across Australia, where producers (the beverage industry) are responsible for the full costs associated with the recovery of their products and 60-80% of containers are now being collected for recycling, with some room for improvement.

    In Europe, producers will have to cover the costs of collecting, transporting and treating problem plastics from 2024. The same should be happening in Australia.



    We have identified 10 key principles that need to be included in Australia's mandated national product stewardship scheme.

    1. Prioritising Avoidance and Reduction
    2. Best Practice Eco-Design of Products
    3. Mandated Standards
    4. Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) across Whole of Life Cycle & Supply Chain
    5. Mandatory National Targets and Obligations
    6. Development of Secondary Markets
    7. A national scheme managed under Commonwealth legislation
    8. A standardised monitoring, compliance, and enforcement regime
    9. Commitment to continuous improvement
    10. Consumer Education and Awareness

    In addition to full producer responsibility, packaging standards must include the requirement that packaging is actually recovered in practice. The standards cover packaging that is reusable, compostable or recyclable. The current Australian Recycling Label (ARL), for example, does not require packaging to be recycled in practice, with the result that most plastic packaging goes to landfill.


  • published Container Refund Scheme must be expanded in Latest News 2023-09-18 09:52:25 +1000

    Container Refund Scheme must be expanded

    With the NSW container refund scheme (CRS), Return & Earn about to recover its 10billionth beverage container, environmental groups are calling for the state government to move on including wine, spirit and other containers in the successful recycling program.

    Read more

  • published Choosing to reuse in Australia 2023-07-31 18:30:12 +1000

    Choosing to reuse in Australia

    According to the latest report from the UN (Turning off the Tap 2023) global plastic pollution needs to be slashed by 80% by 2040. That report states that 'refillable bottles, bulk dispensers, deposit return systems and packaging take-back can reduce plastic pollution by at least 30%'.

    The Boomerang Alliance is putting our primary focus on making reusable food ware and packaging commonplace. We are starting with cups, coffee cups and lids and food containers used away from home. There are now an increasing number of options and services available that can help make this happen. We just need to adopt the right policies and practices to change our habits away from single use.

    Our campaign has identified a range of scenarios where a start can be made. These include at public events, at takeaway outlets, at supermarkets and shops, in controlled environments such as workplaces, food courts or sport stadiums, in transport services and through container deposit collections.

    Through our Plastic Free Places program, we have already set up reusable programs at events, coffee shops and hotels and are now extending this to include more workplaces. Services such as Returnr, Green Caffeen, Cercle and Reusably now offer workable solutions for many corporate and government offices.

    Stadiums Queensland are currently trialling a reusable cup service that could be used at all stadiums in the state. 

    Why do so many business workplaces allow their staff to leave their desks, buy a takeaway beverage in a disposable cup, and return to their desks? It's a situation where a reusable cup is an easier and far better option to reduce single use plastic waste.

    In Europe, TOMRA who provide many of the reverse vending machines at container collection points have developed, and are now trialing, a public collection system for reusable cups and containers in a Danish city. Expect more cities to join.

    The Boomerang Alliance is now lobbying the Commonwealth and all State and Territory Governments to set new policies to support reusables. We want to see an overall target of 30% reusables before 2030.

    We want to see a ban on disposable food ware for dine-in at cafes and restaurants, every takeaway cafes to also offer reusable cups and containers to their customers and have proposed a new levy on the supply of disposable cups and containers.

    All of these measures are already in place or about to be introduced in other parts of the world. Australia, unfortunately, is lagging behind and needs to catch up. The business and corporate sectors can also play a big part in what we could call a reusable revolution. Supermarkets offering returnable containers for fresh food items, home delivery using reusable crates, airlines providing in-flight catering with reusable food ware or food courts switching back to the practices of the past and using reusable cutlery and plates. These are all opportunities for the taking that will make a difference.

    In the next few weeks, the Boomerang alliance will be releasing our Choosing to Reuse in Australia Report. This outlines many of these examples and more and is intended to prompt both government and business to act to make reusables more commonplace. For too long this has been left to progressive businesses and committed individuals to take the lead. It is now time to step up and put the systems and services in place that can change our habits.


    Back to July 2023 Newsletter page >>

  • published NEW! Strict New Packaging Rules 2023-07-31 17:53:58 +1000

    NEW! Strict New Packaging Rules

    Commonwealth Government promises a mandatory product stewardship scheme for 2025

    In a historic agreement, Australia’s Environment Ministers have committed to mandatory packaging targets which, if properly designed and implemented could transform Australia's packaging landscape.

    For the first time packaging producers will be required to meet set targets. Previously targets were voluntary and were never met. The Boomerang Alliance will be advocating for a scheme that ensures that new mandatory rules, making producers responsible for better design and all associated costs for the collection, transport and recovery -- including litter clean ups - are part of the new scheme.

    Soft plastics now predominantly going to landfill, will need to be part of these new arrangements.

    Looking beyond our shores to Europe and the UK, we know that mandatory targets are effective in speeding up industry transformation. Mandatory rules ensure a level playing field and create clear expectations. The onus will be on the businesses responsible for producing packaging to take responsibility for their waste.

    But we know the devil is in the detail yet to be worked out. We expect significant industry pushback on setting strict targets and timelines.

    That's why we will be putting forward a world leading stewardship model that will see Australia realise and go beyond the current voluntary packaging targets.

    Importantly, we want to see a much greater focus on reducing our plastic consumption overall and national commitments to avoid all packaging that is problematic for human health and our environment. We are also advocating for the introduction of a minimum 30% reusable packaging target by 2030.

    Our proposed stewardship model will be shared with allies, supporters, governments and industry stakeholders in due course.

    Stay tuned on ways to support next steps.


    Currently, Australia is the largest consumer of single use plastics next to Singapore. The latest figures show that only 18% of plastics are currently being recycled and only 4% of plastic packaging contains recycled content. The REDcycle collapse has highlighted the ineffectiveness of current arrangements and exposed the fact that other single use plastic packaging recovery rates are embarrassingly low and will miss agreed targets. Virtually all 450,000 tonnes of soft plastics generated in Australia each year are currently destined for landfill. It is obvious that we cannot just recycle our way out of this.

    2025 National Targets. Latest data from APCO (graphic adapted to reference plastic recycled content target and plastic phase out reduction). Please note that reusability, compostability or recyclability does not mean products are recovered in practice.


    Back to July 2023 Newsletter page >>



  • published Container Refunds - The Next Era 2023-07-31 17:41:30 +1000

    Container Refunds - The Next Era

    Now that all states and territories will have operating Container Refund Schemes within 12 months, we are thinking about what could happen next to further improve and expand their reach.

    • Extension to other containers: wine and spirits are first cab off the rank and it was pleasing to see Qld move with a 1 Nov start date. It is inevitable that other states will follow. However, we can go further to include plain milk, health drinks, juices and cordials (glass) – and non drink containers.
    • Recovery not good enough: currently the national rate of 65%, leaves 35% or billions of containers either littered, landfilled or low value in kerbside bins. Serious examination of greater incentives such a raising the refund to 20c should be undertaken, especially as inflation reduces the value of the present 10c.
    • Keeping a close eye on Vic rollout: Victoria decided to have three Network Operators to run refund points – a result many question for its rationality However, the state government’s start date of 1 November 2023 is highly anticipated – Victorians have waited long enough!

    Also check out Total Environment Centre's review of Australia’s Container Refund Schemes


    Back to July 2023 Newsletter page >>

  • published Plastic Free Places 2023-07-31 17:29:38 +1000

    Plastic Free Places

    We've been pushing our Reuse and Avoid agenda forward and have some exciting news for those who look forward to a single-use free future.

    Starting in Sydney in late July, we will be running an EPA funded program to find 100 food retailers who want to be part of a NSW case study to increase reusable options. We’ll be working with these businesses closely to supercharge their practice of reusables, document their journey, and showcase their achievements. These businesses will be at the forefront of change, helping to shape future directions in NSW.

    100 is just the start! So keep your eye out on our promotions and encourage your local changemaking businesses to join us in this in this important project.

    In September, we're commencing a new workplace reusables program in the Brisbane offices of the Qld Department of Environment and Science (DES). The aim of this program is to introduce a reusable system for office staff that connects with the local cafés staff most frequent, and then, using behaviour change principals, work with staff to adopt reusable options. The great part is that DES produces the single-use plastic legislation, so they'll be learning the benefits of reusables and leading by example.

    As part of this program, we’ll be developing resources and guides to help other offices and make them widely available. We'll also start introducing this program into our other programs in 2024.

    We're also looking at how we can help more cafes achieve the benefits of reusables, so we’re going to be creating a series of ‘how-to’ guides on topics businesses are asking us for - particularly around the practical implementation of reusables within their cafes, and how they can eliminate single-use and not lose customers. We’ll be taking some of our leading members as examples for other businesses to follow. We’ll learn about and address some of the real barriers that businesses face, and encouraging them to forward.

    We look forward to updating you on progress in the next newsletter! And keep your eye on our website and socials to stay up to date.

    Remember, as a consumer, the best thing you can do to help is support businesses trying to do the right thing. Businesses often tell us they feel their efforts are not noticed or supported by their customers. Bring your reusables and let the businesses know you appreciate what they are doing. Not only can your action reduce waste and costs for your fave café, but your words keep them going. We can all make a difference!


    Back to July 2023 Newsletter page >>

  • Mandatory Packaging Targets Can Turn Australia’s Tide on Plastic

    In a historic agreement, Australia’s Environment Ministers have committed to introducing mandatory packaging waste recovery targets, which could transform Australia’s packaging landscape. Reducing and recycling plastic packaging will no longer be a matter of voluntary or co-regulatory action.

    Read more

  • Major breakthrough in packaging waste crisis

    Environment groups today hailed the decision by Australia's environment ministers to regulate how packaging is used and produced as the first substantial and meaningful step to turn the corner after 20 years of failed voluntary programs, pollution and waste.

    Read more

  • Australia's plastic ambitions must step up

    As another World Environment Day occurs, Australia faces crucial decisions on how to stop plastic waste killing wildlife and harming human health.

    Read more

  • Eliminating the harm caused by plastic on people and planet

    Plastic Waste Makers Index (PWMI) 2023 shows the planet’s plastic pollution problem is worsening, and new estimates of lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions from single-use plastics demonstrate how single-use plastics producers also contribute to the climate crisis.

    Read more

  • published Supermarket Plastics Survey 2023-05-08 11:01:44 +1000

    Single use plastics are filling up our oceans. Yet too often we get no say over the plastic packaging on our groceries. Together, we’re going to tackle Supermarket plastics.


    Responding to a tidal wave of demand from ocean lovers to tackle supermarket plastics, the Australian Marine Conservation Society is partnering with the Boomerang Alliance to deliver a new nationwide campaign. In 2023, we will deliver Australia’s first independent annual audit of plastics use across the supermarket sector – giving you the facts on which supermarkets are doing the most to fight plastic and what more they can do.

    Our new supermarket plastics team will liaise directly with Australia’s largest supermarkets to investigate the success of plastic reduction efforts, and constructively engage with their sustainability teams to cut plastic packaging and switch to earth safe alternatives. With your help, we can drive a significant reduction of plastic packaging in one of the largest retail sectors, directly reducing Australia’s plastic footprint.



    Transparency & accountability

    We will create an independent annual audit that ranks Australian supermarkets on their plastic packaging practices.

    A public scorecard will allow consumers to see which supermarkets are doing the most to fight plastic, allowing you to make informed choices about where you shop.

    The audit report will provide greater transparency around the goals and commitments made by supermarkets to reduce plastic, and whether they have reduced plastic packaging in real terms. It will also act as a guide to help our supporters take action to reduce their own plastic footprint and encourage supermarkets to adopt best practice across the sector.

    Dedicated support

    Supermarkets have huge potential to reduce household plastics, and they don’t have to do it alone. Our dedicated plastics experts will help supermarkets to implement changes that work.

    Following the publication of the independent audit report, supermarkets will be provided with bespoke recommendations outlining actions they should take to improve their rankings.

    In addition, our team will work with supermarket sustainability teams to implement best practice plastic reduction initiatives as seen across the sector both at a local and international level.

    Policy advice

    AMCS and Boomerang will also accelerate implementation of legislative and policy changes designed to reduce the use of plastics.

    We will encourage these powerful market operators to change supplier behaviour and advocate for consistent plastic reduction standards across the globe.

    The data gathered through the independent audit will also be used to advocate for evidence based policy solutions that address the big barriers stopping supermarkets from reducing plastic.



    Soft plastics represent over 40% of all plastic packaging found in Australian litter cleanups, and food packaging, non-food packaging, beverage containers and beverage rubbish making up the majority of remaining plastic collected.1

    In Australia, the supermarket sector represents a $130 billion dollar industry2 with colossal buying power. While many supermarkets have adopted Australia’s 2025 National Packaging Targets, including a goal to recycle or compost 70% of plastic packaging by 2025, only 18% of plastic packaging is currently being composted or recycled in Australia.3

    From manufacturing and distribution through to sale, supermarkets have enormous power to influence the plastics used in our everyday groceries and household goods. We need our supermarkets to urgently reduce plastic packaging, eliminate unrecyclable plastics and provide refillable alternatives, so that we can have a real shot at stemming the flow of plastic into our oceans.



    1. Clean Up Australia. (2020). Rubbish Report 2020
    2. https://www.ibisworld.com/au/industry/supermarkets-grocery-stores/1834/
    3. https://documents.packagingcovenant.org.au/public-documents/Review%20of%20the%202025%20National%20Packaging%20Targets

    The survey has now closed. We will publish the survey result soon.


    For over 20 years the packaging industry have been telling us they will reduce plastic packaging waste and increase recycling. Now they have admitted they won't meet these targets. Indeed they will get nowhere near them.

    Please support our campaign by following Boomerang Alliance on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn and share our posts! We are not able to do all these works without your support. Please consider making a donation so we can continue our fight against plastic pollution.

  • Status Report: Australia’s Bottle and Can Refund Schemes

    The Total Environment Centre is releasing the first review of all of Australia’s drink bottle and can 10c refund laws which assesses the performance of each state and territory and examines future challenges. Read the full report.

    Read more

  • published Scale of packaging mess revealed in Latest News 2023-04-20 10:51:21 +1000

    Scale of packaging mess revealed

    In an unsurprising but nevertheless disturbing revelation, the Australian Packaging Covenant (APCO) has admitted today the national 2025 recycling and recycled content targets won’t be met. The blame squarely falls on the packaging sector which lacked commitment and investment under the 20 years of voluntary arrangements.

    Read more

  • Cheers to QLD for move on wine, spirits in Container Refunds

    The inclusion of glass wine and spirit bottles in Queensland’s container refund scheme is a significant move on glass recycling that should be mirrored by other states asap.

    Read more

  • Container refunds come to Victoria - finally - but challenges ahead

    The announcement today of the Coordinator and Network Operators (NOs) for Victoria's Container Refund Scheme, marks the end of a very long effort spanning several decades, by community groups who had to battle big drink companies opposed to the introduction of modern drink bottle and can recycling. There are however, challenges ahead that will require close attention by the government.

    Read more

  • Boomerang Alliance Newsletter - March 2023

    Quarter 1, 2023

    It's Crunch Time

    Interesting times as government officials and the packaging industry finally admit they are not on track to meet the 2025 national recycling target. Some key voices will no doubt be calling for the date to be extended to 2030 – making the environment pay for their tardy actions.

    We say NO! Instead, the federal government must regulate to make the targets mandatory and for implementation of a fully funded producer stewardship scheme to support collection of discarded packaging, in particular plastic; its sorting and reprocessing; and use of recycled content in new packaging.

    This is the crucial decision for environment ministers when they meet within the next 2 months. After their last meet in December, they said they wanted to reform packaging regulation – NOW is the time.

    We have launched the Don’t Go Soft on Plastics Campaign to maintain the pressure over coming months. If the states and territories are serious about achieving a circular economy (ie, it’s not all fluff in glossy documents and websites) – we can make a big contribution with diverting the millions of tonnes of plastic packaging currently sent to landfill and dumped as litter, every year.

    You can help by sending a message to the Federal Environment Minister, Tanya Plibersek and urge her to take immediate action.

    Finally on a brighter note, Victoria and Tasmania are due to announce the chosen operators of their Container Refund Schemes. By the end of 2023, Australia will be fully covered by CRS – the first continent to be so. Despite the trenchant opposition of the beverage industry, the community won.

    We can do the same with plastic. So let's keep campaigning.

    Jeff Angel



    With the new government sworn in NSW, we will be seeking quick action on the ALP's promises.  These follow:

    NSW Labor supports a nationally consistent approach to tackling plastic pollution and supports the Federal Government’s recent move to join the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution. We will:

    • Review the NSW Plastics Action Plan to see where the removal of single use items can be accelerated.

    • Support circular economy actions for plastics in which plastic products are either reused, recycled, or remanufactured when no longer useful or required for their initial purposes.



    For over 20 years the packaging industry have been telling us they will reduce plastic packaging waste and increase recycling. But APCO have now admitted they won't meet these targets. Indeed they will get nowhere near them.


    Since 2021, the Boomerang Alliance has been monitoring state and territory actions on phasing out unnecessary and problematic plastic items. Things are progressing as each state passes legislation but this should be happening with more urgency as some states are slow to act.


    The problem with the 'Choose to Reuse' call is that while it is important that we all take action on reusables, we are not going to change general population habits simply through a focus on ad hoc action. What is needed are the systems that create behaviour change.


    Our Plastic Free Places (PFP) program has helped businesses across the nation eliminate over 20 MILLION pieces of single-use plastic. With bans continuing to roll out, our program is more relevant than ever!


    2023 is the year, Australia will be fully covered by container refund schemes (CRS) resulting in billions of drink containers being recycled every year. Even Coca Cola, which vehemently opposed a CRS are now championing their involvement.


    We would not have been able to do all this work without you and your support 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 this year and we hope you will continue to help us.

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


  • published NSW ALP Waste/Recycling Promises 2023-04-05 16:38:28 +1000

    NSW ALP Waste/Recycling Promises

    With the new government sworn in NSW, we will be seeking quick action on the ALP's promises.  These follow:

    1. NSW Labor supports a nationally consistent approach to tackling plastic pollution and supports the Federal Government’s recent move to join the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution. We will:

    • Review the NSW Plastics Action Plan to see where the removal of single use items can be accelerated.

    • Support circular economy actions for plastics in which plastic products are either reused, recycled, or remanufactured when no longer useful or required for their initial purposes.

    There has been action to reduce single-use plastic items entering the waste streams of NSW following bans and the Plastics Action Plan. There is more work to be done especially given the growth of thicker shopping bags to seriously reduce plastics as well as stop the scourge of disposable coffee cups. Labor will review the Plastics Action Plan to see where the removal of single use plastic items can be accelerated.


    2. NSW Labor supports:

    • strong packaging targets to increase recycling and ensure that there are recycled content goals and markets for recycled products. Labor supports, where possible, a nationally consistent approach and supports the Commonwealth’s product stewardship priority list and will seek greater ambition in this area.

    • the expansion of the NSW container deposit scheme to include other containers with appropriate periods of consultation and transition timeframes to be determined in collaboration with effected industries, environment groups, and the broader community.

    • a transition to a circular economy for our waste, with zero incineration and landfill.

    • government action to incorporate more recycled products into government procurement processes and will examine any opportunities in government including mandating some content after appropriate consultation.


    3. Labor does not support waste to energy where there are available alternatives that are economically sustainable, economically practicable and supported by the local community.

    Energy from waste may be an appropriate resource recovery option only when there are no other options further up the waste recovery hierarchy that will provide better environmental outcomes. Any proposed facilities must conform to world’s best practice and must operate to the highest environmental standards. More needs to be done in the first place to avoid, reduce, reuse, and recycle waste before it gets sent to landfill and incinerators.


    Back to March 2023 Newsletter page >>

  • published CDS Update 2023-04-05 16:33:18 +1000

    CDS Update

    2023 is the year, Australia will be fully covered by container refund schemes (CRS) resulting in billions of drink containers being recycled every year. Even Coca Cola, which vehemently opposed a CRS is now championing their involvement.

    Victoria and Tasmania will be announcing their Network Operators soon and they will then get to work rolling out refund points. What’s next? you may ask.

    We are now focussed on expanding the types of containers, that the CRS covers. First off are wine and spirits and larger drink containers up to 3L. Each state and territory are currently consulting on the change which will add several billion containers for recycling. A decision is expected this year. We were pleased to receive the support of the incoming NSW government and if a national harmonised approach is taking too long, Boomerang is encouraging one or more states to act unilaterally.

    Another improvement that could eventuate is to expand the CRS to non-beverage containers. Interestingly the Australian Beverages Council is investigating this. Such a move would help Australia go some way to reach its national packaging target of 70% recycling by 2025. Currently plastic recycling sits at a low 16%.

    Next cab off the rank is to review the current 10c refund. It is low by international standards and over time will lose its incentive impact due to inflation. This will lead to a reduction in returns, as occurred in South Australia when the refund was 5c. The proposal to increase it to 10c was opposed by the beverage companies. We anticipate the same will occur with a proposal to increase it to 20c and are planning our next moves.

    Ideally Australia should have a 90+% return rate.


    Back to March 2023 Newsletter page >>

  • published Plastic Free Places 2023-04-05 15:53:26 +1000

    Plastic Free Places

    Plastic bans have been rolling out across Australia in the last few years, something that seemed far away when we started our program in early 2018.

    Since that time, we have expanded across all states and territories, and PFP has now helped food retail businesses eliminate over 20 MILLION pieces of single-use plastic!

    We've been asked the question - is our program needed as bans come in? Won’t bans solve the problem of plastic packaging?

    Unfortunately, this is not the case.

    We'd actually love to see the day when we're not needed to help businesses navigate the challenging space of alterative packaging. But with the introduction of plastic bans in most states (and expanding), we've been dealing with a rise in false packaging claims and greenwashing as manufacturers attempt to market their products in a changing market.

    This has led to even more confusion for businesses.

    It's so common to hear that they tried to do their own research and choose the best options - but despite this - the vast majority of businesses who join our program are still using products that contain plastic, and often they do not realise this until we point it out.

    Greenwashing is now so prevalent that we've had to employ our very own Research Officer whose sole job it is to keep our team up to date on new products and their certifications.

    That's why our program is so valuable to our members, and to the local, state and federal governments who fund PFP. While we’re putting a spotlight on the problems with the packaging industry, we're also pushing forward with the fundamental change that has always been important to us...REUSABLES!

    We believe Reuse and Avoid is the only way forward with packaging, and that’s why we’ve been developing some great new programs that utilise behaviour change principles to focus on building better reusable habits and foster long-term change and cultural shifts.

    This includes expanding our flagship Reusable Cafes program. With over 30 cafes now having participated in the month long behaviour change program - all of them saw a marked increase in the use of reusables, ranging from a 10% increase to a huge 186% increase!

    What we're demonstrating is that when reusable behaviour is normalised, many people are open to changing their behaviour. In the case of Reusable Cafes, the increase in reusables is directly linked to customers responding to the cafe encouraging it and normalising the behaviour in that environment.

    We're now taking this work and applying it to new programs we're developing with hotels and offices (workplaces). This is currently being trialled in some of our communities.

    It's an exciting time for our program, and we'll keep you updated on the progress as we move through 2023.


    Back to March 2023 Newsletter page >>


  • published Choose to reuse 2023-04-05 15:13:57 +1000

    Choose to reuse

    The problem with the 'Choose to Reuse' call is that while it is important that we all take action on reusables, we are not going to change general population habits simply through a focus on ad hoc action. What is needed are the systems that create behaviour change. In the 1980's household could take their papers, bottles and cans to a local depot for recycling. An estimated 5% of households did this. When local councils introduced a kerbside collection service, firstly with a small crate and then a wheelie bin, an estimated 70-80% of households started to recycle.

    We want to make reusables mainstream. Rather than working on all things reusable, our focus is on the most obvious items first. As we reported in our last December 2022 newsletter the Boomerang Alliance and our allies published two papers in 2022 to promote reusable shopping bag standards and reusable coffee cups. We now are adding a third focus - to ban the use of disposable foodware for dine-in at cafes and food outlets.

    The system we are promoting for reusable shopping bags will mean that only reusable shopping bags that have passed a standards test will be available to consumers. Since we published our paper, a growing number of governments are turning their attention to getting rid of heavyweight plastic bags. Western Australia has already acted, Queensland are planning to do so in September this year and we expect similar actions from South Australia, the ACT and NT in 2024.

    We are including the heavyweight plastic bags that many retailers sell for 15-25 cents and the dodgy plastic bags that are only slightly thicker than the lightweight ban of 35mcrns. We want these phased-out. Woolworths have already announced they will ban their heavyweight plastic bags, with 'reusable' bags or paper bags provided instead. Paper bags are not the answer but are preferable for one-off purchases. This leaves 'reusable' plastic bags. Our proposed standard, developed with the National Retailers Association, is based on an international standard that requires a bag to be designed for at least 125 shopping cycles, with a maximum weight capacity and minimum thickness and recycled content. This will mean that customers will be getting the genuine article, not pretend 'reusable' bags that are just a bit thicker than other plastic bags.

    Disposable coffee cups and lids are the next big items for attention. Most of these products, when used in public places end up in landfill or as litter. And we use an estimated 1.8 billion of them every year in Australia. How do we make the move?

    The Boomerang Alliance has proposed a staged approach. This would start with a ban on plastic-lined cups and lids in 2024. These are just a waste and litter problem and rarely get recovered. As a transition certified compostable cups and lids (including commercially compostable) would be allowed until 2026. This is because there are no disposable non-plastic cups acceptable to the market as yet. When they are, the exemption for commercially compostable cups can be removed. Finally we would like all disposable cups and lids phased out after 2030.

    The ban on disposable cups is a big ask. It could be achieved if reusable cups are more commonplace. To help do this, our strategy calls for regulations that require all cafes and takeaway food outlets to offer or sell reusable cups and lids, as well as their disposable ones. This is already happening in Germany. In addition a levy would be imposed on all disposable cups. We think the combination of access to reusable cups and a levy on disposable cups will change habits.

    To date most governments have been supportive of reusables and BYO coffee cups, but have done little to mainstream the behaviour. This is now changing. The WA, SA, NSW and QLD Governments have asked the Boomerang Alliance, through our Plastic Free Places program, to develop practical case studies for reusable cups and lids. We have begun this task.

    One of the big gripes many of you told us, is disposable packaging at dine-in cafes. We recently took this shot in Melbourne outside of a Starbucks. Whilst Starbucks promotes and sells reusable cups and mugs, it doesn't seem to practice what it preaches. When ordering we asked for reusable cups but still got disposables. This is a common experience. The French recently introduced a ban and many other European countries will do the same.


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