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.

Environment Minister, Tanya Plibersek has just returned from international negotiations on a Plastic Treaty. Australia is proudly part of the High Ambition Group of nations but must match domestic action with our international engagements. Our environment ministers are meeting very soon to discuss the next moves on stopping plastic pollution and regulating the wasteful packaging industry.

According to the UN, plastic pollution must be slashed by 80% by 2040 (Turning Off the Tap, May 2023). The report estimates that based on current trends 19% of total global greenhouse emissions will be caused by plastic production. Only 18% of Australian plastic consumption is recycled and as the REDcycle fiasco showed, we are a long way from a circular economy. Absolute reductions in the amount of plastic used also need to be part of the picture.

The Boomerang Alliance has called on the Commonwealth Government to introduce an industry funded Product Stewardship Scheme (PS) for Packaging with mandated targets for recycling, reuse, and reductions; and make producers responsible for redesigning products, collecting and recycling plastic wastes.

State governments should also keep targeting single use items for bans as we work towards a national best practice approach. Western Australia, Queensland and South Australia are pushing ahead and we are pleased to see that NSW is stepping up its ambitions.