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When the term ‘single-use’ was announced as Collins Dictionary's Word of the Year for 2018, it highlighted the meteoric rise in profile that single-use plastic pollution has gained in the past year, becoming a mainstream issue globally and a buzz-word on everyone's lips. So, now that everyone knows about it, what happens next? My bet is that the term ‘Circular Economy’ will be a strong contender in 2019, as international rhetoric on how best to handle the plastic crisis shifts to the next gear.
The concept of a ‘Circular Economy’ is not new – more than a decade ago, we were talking about ‘Closed Loop Production’ before marketers got their hands on the idea and tried to make it sound sexy. The concept then, as now, was to create a closed system around manufacturing and production that kept resources in the ‘system’. By collecting and reusing materials at the end of a product’s life, the circular economy model aims to minimise waste, improve efficiency and reduce environmental impacts, keeping valuable resources circulating within the economy for much longer and reducing demand for our finite and increasingly dwindling resources.
Australia has begun taking steps towards building a circular economy. The expanding reach of state-based Container Refund Schemes being rolled out across the country (yep, we’re still working on Victoria and Tasmania!!) is creating a collection system for PET containers that is producing clean, source separated plastics which are commanding high prices in the international marketplace. Similarly, the recycling targets for packaging, announced by the Commonwealth Environment Minister in September, are a small step in the right direction. However, without measures like mandated recycled content requirements and product stewardship programs, unregulated targets will have little impact on preventing the flow of virgin plastics into the Australian marketplace, leaving us with a glut of recycled materials that must be shipped off shore to find new uses.
And these are only small parts of a much larger circle. Education on packaging design, restrictions on polymer combinations, incentivisation for waste handlers and recyclers, mandatory extended producer responsibility programs and support for local government to improve waste collection and processing are some of the other points around the circle that require focus to bring the ends of the loop together.
So, while we will continue to push for the elimination of all those problematic ‘single-use’ plastics that plague our environment, 2019 will see BA expand our focus towards driving the creation of a robust circular economy in Australia, taking advantage of the opportunities that such a shift offers - to build industry; to work towards our zero waste objective; to help give our marine environment a fighting chance.
We thank you for your continued support. Together, we have made huge leaps over the past few years and we hope you’ll stick with us us as we take the fight to the next stage. Here’s to another big year of progress in 2019!
Jayne Paramor - Deputy Director of Boomerang Alliance
|REMEMBERING IAN KIERNAN
AUSTRALIA MOURNED THE LOSS OF ENVIRONMENTAL GIANT, IAN KIERNAN
Boomerang Alliance Director, Jeff Angel, reflects on a life dedicated to preserving Australia's environment.
"He was a leader in the protection of our environment and leaves an enduring legacy by making us aware of our responsibilities to future generations; impressing on our politicians the need to act; and establishing Clean Up Australia and Clean Up the World."
"Whether it was inspiring hundreds of thousands of people to pick up litter or campaigning to bring in rubbish prevention laws, like the plastic bag bans and recycling schemes like refunds on drink containers – Ian made a massive difference. He spoke to the whole spectrum of Australian society with good sense, cut through messages, humour and optimism."
"I was privileged to work with Ian over several decades and he was always generous with his time and advice. He never gave up and we, and our environment are so much the better for it. When the history books are written about the environment battles of the last 50 years, Ian’s contribution to cleaner waterways and oceans and an environment protection ethic that runs deep in our society, will be justifiably applauded."
|BOOMERANG ALLIANCE IN THE MEDIA
Boomerang Alliance director Jeff Angel discusses the discovery of microplastic in human stool samples, with SBS The Feed
Jayne Paramor, deputy director of Boomerang Alliance, is interviewed by China Global Television Network on steps towards a Plastic-Free Christmas
Boomerang Alliance deputy director Jayne Paramor talks recycling do’s and don’ts with popular Nova 96.9 radio duo Fitzy and Wippa
|Words: Stephen Milton Design: Rianti Bieler
|We would not have been able to do all these works without our supporters. Please donate so we can continue our fight against plastic pollution.