Image credit: John Cameron
As in previous elections, the 2019 Federal election is an opportunity to get a new government, of whatever persuasion, to commit to acting to reducing waste and litter, particularly of plastics. And this year the time is especially urgent, given the international and domestic momentum to act on plastic pollution; and our recycling crisis.
We are now facing two major challenges, Saving Recycling and Getting Rid of Single use Plastics. Our asks from political parties seek commitments that will put Australia on track to solve these issues, and assist our immediate neighbours and oceans to deal with an increasing tide of plastic pollution.
Funding for Recycling Industry Development Fund. We have asked for $150m. This fund will help develop a domestic reprocessing industry to recycle products collected by households and business as an alternative to sending them overseas; to landfill; or incineration. Included in this are proposals for tax incentives for business and government procurement policy to ‘buy recycled.’
Phase out date for single use takeaway plastics (coffee cups/lids, straws, cups and containers and cutlery). This follows the EU decision to phase out some key items in 2021 and increasing calls for similar action around the country. There are plenty of alternatives and will contribute to achieving the 2025 goals for all packaging to be composted or recycled.
National bans on plastic bags and plastic microbeads and introduce CDS in every State. This meets Commonwealth promises internationally and puts pressure on remaining states (Victoria and Tasmania) to act. The current voluntary microbead ban has not gone far enough and has loopholes.
The Product Stewardship Act should be strengthened by including eco-design requirements on packaging that minimise use and ensures packaging can be reused, composted or recycled. If we don’t make industry act, then local governments, waste industry and consumers and the environment will continue to suffer the cost of disposal and from litter.
Adopt a Plastic Pollution Reduction Strategy. This is an on-going program to examine and find solutions to other single use plastics. It involves engagement with industry and community sectors in retail, agriculture, industry and marine environments.
Support global action and assist our pacific neighbours to address plastic waste and litter. We want the Commonwealth to be pro-actively involved in global initiatives and, in particular, look to provide specific bi-lateral funding to Pacific and near neighbours to assist with plastic litter clean up and development of community-based recycling operations.
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