Rianti Bieler published The Briefing: The epic fail of our soft plastics recycling system in Latest News 2023-03-16 10:01:48 +1100
Australia's largest soft plastics recycling scheme REDcycle collapsed last November and last week the scheme was declared insolvent by the Supreme court. Soft plastics collected from supermarkets were sent to warehouses where they’ve been stockpiled for months, leaving consumers disappointed and pushing Australia even further from its national packaging target. So, how far are we from that 2025 goal?Read more
Rianti Bieler published Supermarkets released timid plan for soft plastics recycling in Latest News 2023-03-08 10:23:30 +1100
Today’s release by Coles, Woolworths and Aldi of a soft plastics "Roadmap to Restart" is an admission of failure over the last 5 years and does not inspire confidence the problem will be solved.Read more
Rianti Bieler published Supermarkets first step on soft plastics journey? in Latest News 2023-02-24 10:30:07 +1100
The commitment by Coles and Woolworths to manage the REDcycle soft plastic stockpile is hopefully, the start of a journey to recycling the vast bulk of Australia’s 440,000tonnes of the material, the Boomerang Alliance said today.Read more
Rianti Bieler published Queensland to Ban the Release of Lighter Than Air Balloons in Latest News 2023-02-23 12:05:32 +1100
The Queensland Government has introduced legislation to ban the release of lighter than air balloons. The ban is likely to be put into effect in September 2023.Read more
Rianti Bieler published How effective are reusable/"green" bags? in Latest News 2023-02-20 15:58:10 +1100
How often or long do we need to use green bags to make reusable bags actually environmentally friendly and how are they being recycled?
Boomerang Alliance campaigner Birte Moliere spoke with James Valentine on ABC News.Read more
Rianti Bieler published ABC News: Businesses not alone in move away from plastic in Latest News 2023-02-17 16:47:41 +1100
Cafes and restaurants are being pushed away from plastic, with single use plastic bans coming into force across the country.
It can be an expensive transition, but there's support for businesses making the move towards greener alternatives.Read more
Rianti Bieler published Supermarkets start abandoning heavyweight plastic bags but not providing genuine reusable alternatives in Latest News 2023-02-16 11:34:26 +1100
Supermarkets start abandoning heavyweight plastic bags but not providing genuine reusable alternatives
Western Australia banned heavyweight plastic bags in 2022, Queensland will follow this September. South Australia and the ACT will act soon. The bans are forcing the major supermarkets to abandon their 15 or 25 cent plastic bags.Read more
Rianti Bieler published National plan for soft plastics recycling released in Latest News 2023-02-13 09:30:10 +1100
Australia urgently needs a national plan to tackle the soft plastics crisis and the Boomerang Alliance is releasing its proposed product stewardship scheme to mandate action by producers and supermarkets.Read more
Rianti Bieler published Restaurants should stop serving in disposable foodware in Latest News 2023-01-11 21:55:24 +1100
Dine-in restaurants in Australia should be banned from serving food and drink in disposable packaging.Read more
Rianti Bieler published Submission: Inquiry into the impacts of plastic pollution in Australia’s oceans and waterways in Latest News 2022-12-23 09:56:37 +1100
Boomerang Alliance submitted a joint submission to House of Representatives Standing Committee Inquiry into the impacts of plastic pollution in Australia’s oceans and waterways with Total Environment Centre and AUSMAP.
Rianti Bieler published Boomerang Alliance Newsletter - December 2022 in Newsletter 2022-12-07 17:51:49 +1100
Rianti Bieler published Plastic Free Places - Highlights of 2022 in Boomerang Alliance Newsletter - December 2022 2022-12-07 10:42:14 +1100
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
Rianti Bieler published Lisa’s last news article in Boomerang Alliance Newsletter - December 2022 2022-12-05 13:54:06 +1100
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.
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!
Rianti Bieler published Where to now for soft plastics? in Boomerang Alliance Newsletter - December 2022 2022-12-05 11:48:07 +1100
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.
Rianti Bieler published Container Refunds to expand? in Boomerang Alliance Newsletter - December 2022 2022-12-05 10:42:26 +1100
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.
Rianti Bieler published Two Big Problem items for 2023 in Boomerang Alliance Newsletter - December 2022 2022-12-05 09:55:26 +1100
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
Rianti Bieler published ABC Illawarra - Interview with Jeff Angel in Latest News 2022-11-09 11:10:06 +1100
Jeff Angel discussed the Container Deposit Scheme expansion and the REDcycle soft plastic recycling collapse with Melinda James from ABC Illawarra.Read more
Rianti Bieler published REDcycle Collapse Exposes Packaging Industry Flaws in Latest News 2022-11-09 10:20:26 +1100
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
Rianti Bieler published Container Refund Scheme Expansion - States Line up in Latest News 2022-11-08 11:40:10 +1100
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
Rianti Bieler published Stopping Plastic Pollution: Urgent focus for Environment Ministers at first meeting in Latest News 2022-10-20 11:11:05 +1100
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