NSW takes major steps on plastic and waste

The release of the Plastics and Waste Policies will move the state into a new era of pollution reduction and recycling.

Highlights are:

• The banning of key polluting single use plastic items like straws, stirrers, bags and EPS foodware.
• The removal of plastic stemmed cotton buds on which NSW is taking the national lead.
• Mandating food and garden organics collection, making a big contribution to reducing landfill.
• An extended producer responsibility scheme for cigarette butts which will be a driver for the cigarette industry to take its litter more seriously.

With the alarm on plastic pollution and waste sounding ever louder, Boomerang Alliance will continue to push governments to do more, faster. This particularly applies to the government’s proposed second tranche of plastic bans; and mandating industry action on the 2025 national waste and packaging recycling targets – as relying on voluntary action by business is a dead end street. We also urge government agencies to show real commitment and targets for using recycled content in their purchasing chains.

We are pleased the government has adopted our proposal to fund Operation Clean Sweep to stop microplastic pollution by nurdles escaping from plastic factories.

However, the government will find it difficult to get the community onside with plans to open the door to waste to energy plants. These are fraught with toxic emission and resource waste issues. They particularly gobble up resources that could be recycled instead of incinerated.

Overall, the two policies embody a comprehensive approach that will require dedicated and focused attention and ongoing updates, in coming years. We can’t afford to slacken the pace of change.