Choosing to reuse in Australia

According to the latest report from the UN (Turning off the Tap 2023) global plastic pollution needs to be slashed by 80% by 2040. That report states that 'refillable bottles, bulk dispensers, deposit return systems and packaging take-back can reduce plastic pollution by at least 30%'.

The Boomerang Alliance is putting our primary focus on making reusable food ware and packaging commonplace. We are starting with cups, coffee cups and lids and food containers used away from home. There are now an increasing number of options and services available that can help make this happen. We just need to adopt the right policies and practices to change our habits away from single use.

Our campaign has identified a range of scenarios where a start can be made. These include at public events, at takeaway outlets, at supermarkets and shops, in controlled environments such as workplaces, food courts or sport stadiums, in transport services and through container deposit collections.

Through our Plastic Free Places program, we have already set up reusable programs at events, coffee shops and hotels and are now extending this to include more workplaces. Services such as Returnr, Green Caffeen, Cercle and Reusably now offer workable solutions for many corporate and government offices.

Stadiums Queensland are currently trialling a reusable cup service that could be used at all stadiums in the state. 

Why do so many business workplaces allow their staff to leave their desks, buy a takeaway beverage in a disposable cup, and return to their desks? It's a situation where a reusable cup is an easier and far better option to reduce single use plastic waste.

In Europe, TOMRA who provide many of the reverse vending machines at container collection points have developed, and are now trialing, a public collection system for reusable cups and containers in a Danish city. Expect more cities to join.

The Boomerang Alliance is now lobbying the Commonwealth and all State and Territory Governments to set new policies to support reusables. We want to see an overall target of 30% reusables before 2030.

We want to see a ban on disposable food ware for dine-in at cafes and restaurants, every takeaway cafes to also offer reusable cups and containers to their customers and have proposed a new levy on the supply of disposable cups and containers.

All of these measures are already in place or about to be introduced in other parts of the world. Australia, unfortunately, is lagging behind and needs to catch up. The business and corporate sectors can also play a big part in what we could call a reusable revolution. Supermarkets offering returnable containers for fresh food items, home delivery using reusable crates, airlines providing in-flight catering with reusable food ware or food courts switching back to the practices of the past and using reusable cutlery and plates. These are all opportunities for the taking that will make a difference.

In the next few weeks, the Boomerang alliance will be releasing our Choosing to Reuse in Australia Report. This outlines many of these examples and more and is intended to prompt both government and business to act to make reusables more commonplace. For too long this has been left to progressive businesses and committed individuals to take the lead. It is now time to step up and put the systems and services in place that can change our habits.


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