Sara Gibson

  • Supermarket Inquiry- What We Have Asked For

    The ACCC has been taking submissions from interested parties about the major supermarkets. This has largely been focused on pricing and whether there has been unfair behaviour by the supermarkets with primary producers and consumers. The Boomerang Alliance took the opportunity to present our views on two key issues raised by our supermarket audit run with the AMCS. Those were pricing packaged fresh produce at lower than loose items and the continued misleading recycling information on labels.

    In our submission, we stated:

    We, and our supporters regularly monitor the actions of supermarkets with respect to packaging. The issue we receive most comment on from supporters and the public is the practice of charging more for loose fruit and vegetables compared to equivalent products that are packaged. This practice provides a clear price incentive to purchase unnecessary packaging. Packaging that councils and their ratepayers have to foot the bill for collection and recovery. In the case of plastic (soft plastics) packaging services, there is no collection service so it all goes to waste (with associated public cost)

    Supermarkets offer products in packaging that the consumer accepts will be recovered after use. Reuse and recycling are important considerations for most consumers when making purchasing decisions. Data from APCO (Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation) indicates that less than 20% of plastic packaging is being recovered, and the rest is being wasted. An estimated 3-4% of plastic packaging contains recycled content. 

    Many supermarkets and brands now use the Australian Recycling label (ARL) to promote their environmental credentials to consumers. The ARL provides information on the recyclability of product packaging and information on its correct discard to avoid waste. Since October 2022, there has been no in-store collection of soft plastics. Despite this, the ARL (provided by the two major supermarkets) still advises consumers they can discard soft plastics in-store. The ARL should be changed if no service is provided.

    The ARL itself needs to be reviewed as it suggests to consumers that their packaging (particularly plastics) will be recycled. The ARL description of recyclability needs to be expanded to include the requirements that any packaging is recovered, in practice and at scale.


  • published Global Plastic Treaty an Update in Latest News 2024-05-23 11:27:14 +1000

    Global Plastic Treaty an Update

    The most recent negotiation session for a global marine plastic treaty (Ottawa, Canada 23-29 April 2024) was frustrating and disappointing for many delegates hoping for more progress on an international agreement. That lack of progress stems from the major plastics industries, and a bloc of nations opposing common global rules. 

    Kate Noble from WWF who attended the meeting has told us that, 'vested economic interests are playing out in these negotiations in a major way. The value of plastics traded globally is estimated by the UN at more than $USD 1 trillion, with rapid annual growth. So oil and petrochemical companies - and countries heavily dependent on oil and gas revenue - are fighting hard in this process to protect profits through growth in plastic production, as other sectors decarbonise.' 

     A significant majority of countries - more than 100 - are quite aligned in pushing for global rules to ban, phase out and/or regulate the most polluting plastic products and the most harmful chemicals in plastics. And a significant number - including Australia - are engaging in good faith negotiations on how the treaty can reduce plastic production to sustainable measures, as well as possible trade measures.

    UN member states are now working towards the final negotiation session scheduled for Busan (South Korea) in November/December 2024. It was intended that this would be the last session before the signing of an international agreement. This may not be the case now.

    Australia is amongst the progressive countries who want effective solutions with common global rules. The Boomerang Alliance commends the Australian Government and its delegation for taking this position. 

    Kate Noble adds that "Australia is playing a very constructive role in negotiations that goes beyond its role as a UN member state. Australia's Kate Lynch has stepped into a high-level coordination role within the negotiations, co-chairing negotiation of the financial package and obligations which will be critical to effective implementation of the treaty in the years to come.'

     Please Note: In Australia, the Boomerang Alliance is currently lobbying the Commonwealth Government to introduce a Product Stewardship Scheme for Packaging that will make producers responsible for their packaging. Such a scheme would set an example to the rest of the world on how to manage problem plastic packaging and avoid waste and litter. It would be a practical demonstration of Australia's commitment towards ending plastic pollution.

    In a nutshell: What the Boomerang Alliance wants

    • Legally binding common and global rules that will change the way plastics are managed in our economies to avoid unnecessary consumption and eliminate waste and pollution
    • Introduced Circular Economy measures that make producers responsible for the products they place into the market through their entire lifecycle
    • Prioritising action on the types of plastic most likely to be wasted or littered
    • Support for fair and equitable global action by providing the means (where it is needed) for all nations to transition away from problematic plastics that impact people and the environment

  • Boomerang Alliance have called on major supermarkets to change soft plastics labels

    In a recent investigation on supermarket practices, we found that many products that used soft plastic wrapping still had labels advising consumers to return the wrapping to the store, even when no collection service existed. The REDcycle soft plastics collection service collapsed in October 2022 and has not been replaced.

    In our random sample of products we picked fresh produce and common items, products that would have been packaged more recently. 

    We also found that some brands had changed their labels to advise the wrapping went to waste. Not a great outcome but more honest.

    The Boomerang Alliance has called on supermarkets and other retailers to remove these labels or provide a collection service.

    We have asked the Commonwealth and the ACCC to act on this. What is the point of labels if they don't provide accurate information?

     

     

    See our latest media release on the subject here


  • The Boomerang Alliance calls on Senate to support a National Circular Economy

    In its submission to the Senate Inquiry on Commonwealth waste and recycling policies, the Boomerang Alliance has called for Commonwealth action to fix national waste laws.

    The only way to reduce and eliminate waste is to abandon the linear economy model of make-use-throwaway and switch to a circular economy approach. The best way to achieve this is for producers of products to be responsible for their products through their entire lifecycle, not just when they manufacture them.

     

    The Boomerang Alliance has called for:

    •  A national circular economy policy framework and its regulated adoption by all States and Territories.
    • All existing and future product stewardship schemes are to be mandatory schemes.
    • Commonwealth policies are to be aligned with State and Territory bans on particular products and landfill disposal, and the promotion of reuse of resources. 

     


  • published Supermarket Progress Report in Newsletter 2024-03-19 15:26:46 +1100

    Supermarket Progress Report

    March 2024
     

    Update: Supermarket Progress Report

    Last year in the first independent audit of plastic on Australia's supermarket shelves, The Australian Marine Conservation Society and Boomerang Alliance uncovered a worrying lack of progress in reducing plastic packaging. 

    As we work towards the second report, we wanted to show you what progress the supermarkets have made since the release of our report.

    As a Boomerang Alliance supporter, I wanted to make sure you were kept up to date on how the supermarkets are tracking. 

    It's been five months since we released Australia's first independent report on supermarkets. Yet every time I walk into a supermarket, I'm astounded by the amount of unnecessary plastic surrounding me. 

    It's on every shelf, in every aisle. It's at the checkout, it's on our fresh fruit and vegetables and less than 20% ever gets recovered. Mostly it ends up in landfills or littered in the environment and our oceans. By reducing the amount of plastic on supermarket shelves, we know we can drive down the estimated 145,000 tonnes of plastic pollution that flows into Australia's oceans every year 1.

    Last year, we conducted Australia's first independent audit of the big 4 supermarkets, so that shoppers like you can clearly see what each of the supermarkets are doing to deal with their plastic addiction. 

    We've followed up on our Top 5 Recommendations to see how the supermarkets are tracking. While some supermarkets have made progress, others are trailing behind. 

    1 O’Farrell, K., Harney, F., & Chakma, P. (2021). Australian Plastics Flows and Fates Study 2019-20 - NationalReport. Prepared for the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment.

     

     What we're welcoming: 

    • Woolworths have phased out integrated single-use plastic straws and cutlery in their own-brand products and have a requirement that all products stocked on their shelves do the same by the end of 2024. 
    • Coles have expanded a trial in SA allowing customers to BYO containers for some deli items. 

    We're disappointed to see: 

    • No supermarket has committed to ensure loose fresh produce is the same price or cheaper than pre-packaged fresh produce. 
    • No supermarket has committed to reducing the volume of single-serve or small portion items.

     

    The big 4 supermarkets in Australia are all claiming they're leading the way in plastic reductions, but we're not seeing the results. In 2023, packaging and soft plastics combined made up 69.7% of all plastics collected in cleans up around Australia 2. 

    Right now, we're conducting our 2024 audit. We're committed to bringing accountability to supermarkets in Australia and will release the second report later this year. 

    This work doesn't happen without your support. The supermarkets have now taken notice. We need to keep the pressure on them to get the actions needed.

     

    Jeff Angel
    Director 
    Boomerang Alliance
     

    Australia generates more single-use plastic waste per person than any other country except Singapore - Minderoo Foundation, Plastic Wastemaker Index.

    With your help, we have a very rare opportunity to turn the tide on plastic waste and pollution. Australia's environment ministers have recently agreed to an ambitious packaging reform, with federal Minister Tanya Plibersek calling for a "Plastic-Pollution-Free Pacific in our lifetimes" – committing to world-leading regulation in 2024. This is our chance, but it won’t happen without cutting the amount of plastic we use in the first place.

    CAN YOU HELP US MAKE THIS HAPPEN?

     
     
     

    We would not have been able to do all this work without you and your support by making a donation, signing a petition, sharing our social media posts and sending us words of encouragement. We still have much work to do this year and we hope you will continue to help us.


     
    Please donate so we can continue our fight against plastic pollution.
     

     


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