A Boomerang Alliance Backgrounder.
According to global data, 95% of single use plastic packaging is used once and then thrown away. This single use plastic includes takeaway packaging. It also includes products used in horticulture, in industry and in the marine environment. Whilst many governments are getting more active on restricting plastic bags and some takeaway packaging, many other forms of single use plastics are going under the radar.
One answer is to establish a national strategy to address all types of single use plastics. A comprehensive and nationally- based approach will engage with all sectors and industries that use problematic single use plastics. It will be able to research impacts and innovative solutions and, set in train, policies to eliminate these plastics.
Single use plastics are everywhere so taking a systematic and strategic approach to their use and applying a continuous improvement approach to policy and practices, will make a difference.
Solving the plastic pollution problem will take time. A National Plastic Pollution Reduction Strategy (PPRS), with jurisdictional, industrial and community ownership will keep this agenda on track and reduce the plastic plague in our oceans.
Boomerang Alliance is calling for the establishment of a National Plastic Pollution Reduction Strategy by 2021.
Most states and territories including South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia, New South Wales, ACT and Victoria have established some form of plastic pollution strategy process but we lack an overall and consistent approach.
The PPRS Approach
All Australian jurisdictions have endorsed a goal of having all plastic packaging reusable, compostable or recyclable by 2025. As outlined above, achieving this goal involves all sectors of society and goes well beyond takeaway packaging litter and waste.
A start has been made with bans of lightweight plastic bags, the introduction of container refund schemes and the ban on plastic microbeads (although this ban needs to be mandated for 100% coverage). These have all made a difference.
The policy agenda must continue with the obvious low hanging fruit now being thicker plastic bags, single use plastic takeaway items and an expanded container refund scheme.
The next step is to broaden the government approach to other sectors. Achieving outcomes with other sectors is not as difficult as many might think. The agriculture, retail, business and marine sectors have already identified they have a problem with single use plastics. What they are now looking for is support for solutions and consistent government policies to achieve change.
The Boomerang Alliance PPRS proposal calls for a strategy that will:
- Address single use plastics waste and litter
- Focus on plastics in the home, away from home, in agriculture, in business and industry and in the marine environment
- Involves all stakeholders (government, industry and community) in owning and finding solutions through continuous improvements
- Provide funding to study impacts and research innovative solutions
- Set policies and practices to address identified problems
Some Examples of problematic single use plastics
- Bought food plastic packaging immediately discarded
- Product packaging immediately discarded (ie personal care products/household items)
- Wrappers, tear-offs, lids etc
- Large product packaging (whitegoods)
- Cleaning products
Away from Home
- Wrappers and food packaging
- Fast food packaging
- Coffee cups/lids/straws, food ware, bags, bottles, containers
- Footwear/picnic utensils
Industrial/ Agricultural/Commercial Plastics
- Trickle tape
- Product sheeting
- Plastics in production processes
- Packaging-received products
- Packaging-dispatched products
Marine Sourced Debris
- Discarded nets-commercial
- Fishing tackle/nets-recreational
- Discards from ships and boats
- International vessels
- Plastics from land-based sources such as stormwater drains
 Ellen Macarthur Foundation/WEF New Plastics Economy report 2016