On Tuesday, Coles cheerily announced their new 'Fresh Food Container Program', claiming it will 'help customers reduce food and plastic waste at home, helping their household budget and the environment at the same time.'
To break it down, from Wednesday April 24, Coles patrons will earn ‘container credits’ when they spend $20 or more to be redeemed for a range of five different reusable storage containers from 600mL to 1.5 litres, as well as a specially-designed vacuum pump that removes air to tightly seal the containers, which at the end of their life 'can be recycled in the kerbside bin.'
'We know our customers want to reduce food waste for environmental and family budget reasons and these reusable containers are a great way to keep food fresh in the fridge or pantry without the need for more single-use plastic,” said Coles Chief Operating Officer Greg Davis.
'Coles has removed 1.2 billion single-use plastic bags from circulation since we phased them out of our stores last year, and since 2011 we have diverted more than 542 million pieces of flexible plastic from landfill through our recycling partnership with REDcycle.'
We buy it, use it briefly and throw plastic away into landfill or as litter. Only a small proportion, usually collected through kerbside collections, actually makes it to a recycler. Of the 907,000 tonnes of plastic packaging used in Australia (2017-18) only 14% was actually recycled in Australia. Plastic packaging is out of control.
Australia’s Product Stewardship Act (2011) can oblige companies to reduce waste and prevent harmful materials from ending up in the environment or landfill, by increasing recycling and recovery of valuable resources from products. While the legislation has good intentions, it clearly has not worked to reduce plastic waste and improve its recycling. Currently councils and households bear the cost but it is now time for manufacturers to play a big role.
Following announced measures to tackle plastic pollution including phasing out plastic straws for paper back in January, Coca-Cola Amatil have doubled their commitment to sustainable packaging with a pledge to manufacture 70 per cent of their bottles in the Australian market with recycled plastic by the end of 2019.
Under the welcome new commitment, 'all small packages 600ml and under, including brands such as Coca-Cola, Sprite, Fanta, Mount Franklin and Pump 750ml, will be made entirely from recycled plastic' by the end of this year.
This indicates the amount of virgin plastic resin Coca-Cola use will be drastically reduced by an estimated 10,000 tonnes each year from 2020.
Over the weekend, Bill Shorten proudly announced Labor's recycling and waste strategy.
Under the proposed legislation, an ALP Federal Government will introduce national bans on lightweight, single-use plastic bags by 2021.
Microbeads will also be outlawed in a bill designed to protect vulnerable wildlife and reduce the amount of waste generated.
'Plastic has a devastating impact on our natural environment - more than a third of the world's sea turtles were found to have plastic waste in their stomachs, and it is estimated around 90 per cent of seabirds eat plastic waste,' a joint statement read from the Opposition Leader, Labor Senators Penny Wong and Kim Carr and environment spokesman Tony Burke.
Additional initiatives include 'a national container deposit scheme, a $60 million national recycling fund and $15 million to help neighbouring countries clean up the Pacific Ocean.'
And along with the appointment of a national waste commissioner, Labor would set mandatory targets for all government departments to purchase products made out of recycled materials.
This would include seeking to ensure all major roads funded by the Federal government contained recycled products.
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Thanks to an overwhelming reliance on ‘go-slow’ review processes and voluntary action, Australia's strategy for a sustainable future is leaving us behind the rest of the world - economically and environmentally.
The situation is now critical, as Asian markets for Australian recyclable material are closing down. And as leading economies move to secure resources through new domestic capabilities in recycling and reprocessing, Australia has to drastically fill its recycling gap.
And with just weeks to the Federal Election - with focus on mid-May but date TBC - Boomerang Alliance and Australian Council of Recycling has released a set of key measures to ensure tightening and enhancement of a National Waste Policy that will deliver economic value, jobs and environment protection.
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Studies from the University of Stirling have found dangerous pathogens 'hitch-hiking' on plastic litter and microplastics washed up on beaches around Scotland.
The discovery of disease-carrying bacteria transported from sewage discharge points to bathing waters and shellfish beds on tiny plastic beads or 'nurdles', could have potential implications for human health.
'The danger is that pathogens could be transported over large distances and survive for much longer than normal,' said chief researcher Dr Richard Quilliam.
'When a pathogen is bound to a piece of plastic it’s going to be protected, as it can hide from things that normally kill it, like UV light.'
According to the research, scientists discovered '45% of nurdles, the size and shape of a lentil, collected from five EU-designated beaches in East Lothian were polluted with E. coli, a bacteria that causes diarrhoea and severe cramps. Up to 90% of them were contaminated with Vibrio, which causes gastroenteritis.'
Dr Quilliam added: 'Once you are sitting on a piece of plastic that is designed to be persistent for hundreds of years, and you are floating in the ocean currents, you have the opportunity to move great distances.'
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The NSW ALP waste and recycling policy released today is a substantial set of commitments that will make a big difference to our recycling crisis and reduce plastic pollution, environment groups said today.
The combination of new funds for recycling facilities in urban and regional centres and an attack on plastic pollution is essential to the future health of our environment', said Jeff Angel, Director of Boomerang Alliance.
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It’s official! The Town of Bassendean in Perth is going plastic free, after the public launch of Boomerang Alliance’s Plastic Free Places program this week under the banner WA Plastic Free.
Bassendean’s revitalised Old Perth Road precinct was abuzz as local business owners gathered at O2Café to learn more about the project and how they can get involved. The program works with local food retailers, markets and events to eliminate single-use plastic and, appropriately, the whole thing got underway at O2, Bassendean’s first café to be declared a ‘Plastic-Free Champion.’
WA Plastic Free makes Bassendean WA’s first community under the Plastic Free Places program to make the shift away from single-use plastics, under the guidance of the Boomerang Alliance and with funding support by the WA Waste Authority. The program’s pilot community Noosa, in Queensland, eliminated more than 2 million pieces of single-use plastic in its first year.
WA Plastic Free Project Coordinator Amy Matheson said ‘‘Our project aims to eliminate or replace key plastic items that are commonly found in the litter stream - water bottles, straws, coffee/cups & lids, takeaway containers, foodware (cutlery, cups, plates) and plastic bags” Ms Matheson explained. “All of these items have readily available reusable or compostable alternatives. It’s our job to work with businesses and events, show them the alternatives and help them to make the switch. Once they’ve removed those key items, we declare them ‘Plastic Free Champions’ and they can enjoy all the benefits that come with that”.
After much work behind the scenes at the end of 2018, the project is in full swing and will continue to expand over the coming months. Currently, the program is centred in Bassendean, with the hope of expanding into other surrounding areas.
“The Plastic Free Places program is really unique,”said Jayne Paramor, Deputy Director of the Boomerang Alliance. “We do a lot of work behind-the-scenes to make it easy for businesses to make the switch. We work with Council, suppliers, manufacturers, composters and waste transport operators to deliver effective solutions. Bassendean is the fourth community we are working with and we look forward to achieving some exciting results.”
To find out more, head to the website www.waplasticfree.org
Woolworths have come out swinging against Coles with a new plastic-free collectable campaign.
Shortly after the launch of the Stikeez promotion, featuring fresh produce characters made from plastic, the rival retailer has released their 'practically' eco-friendly alternative, 'Disney Words.'
From Wednesday February 27, customers will be able to collect 36 tiles featuring a Disney character on one side and a letter on the flip side for use in various word games.
And the kicker - the tiles are made of tin-plated steel and come in a paper wrapper which Woolworths claim are recyclable through council kerbside collections.