Our Plastic Free Places Program is now active in 5 communities across Australia (Adelaide, Byron, Perth, Cairns and Townsville), with our pilot community Noosa having been handed over to Tourism Noosa to manage at the end of 2019. We're also running two trial programs in Victoria (Elsternwick and Mt Martha).
Combined (excluding Cairns and Townsville which commenced last month), we have eliminated over 5 million pieces of single-use plastic! We’ve done this by working directly with food retailers, markets and events to help them eliminate, reduce, or switch to better alternatives, and working with suppliers and manufacturers to facilitate solutions for businesses.
While 2020 is under a cloud of uncertainty at the moment, we're continuing to offer our support to businesses to help them transition to sustainable takeaway based meals. While things are pretty unknown, one thing we do know is that the problems of plastic pollution will still be with us when this crisis ends. So our work continues!
We'd like to encourage everyone to support small businesses in our community – order takeaway meals where you can and If you can't make it to your regular cafe (or are justifiably reluctant to go out), call them to see if you can buy a gift voucher to use in the future, or see if they deliver.
Here's a quick rundown on what we've been doing.
Our combined impact (data taken from Adelaide, Perth, Byron and Noosa up to Feb 2020)
*Plastic Free Champions are our member food retailers, markets and events that have eliminated all of our key plastic items (straws, coffee cups & lids, takeaway containers & lids, food ware (cutlery, plates, cups etc), water bottles & bags).
Plastic Free Noosa
Our pilot program in Noosa commenced in February 2018, and achieved some key wins, notably assisting to get a composting service up and running in the region that could be accessed by events. By the end of 2019, we quantified that our 204 business members and 20 event and market members had eliminated over 4.3 million single use plastic items! We passed the program reigns over to Tourism Noosa at the end of 2019, and the program continues.
Make the Switch (Plastic Free Byron)
In operation since July 2018, Make the Switch is still very active in the community, albeit with a gap in funding that put the program on hold for 4 months in mid 2019. Nonetheless, the program is edging its way up to a million items eliminated, which should be achieved in the next few months!
WA Plastic Free
Due to funding delays, our program in Perth commenced in March 2019 and only ran until August 2019. Despite this, we continue to hold space for the program and assist current members while seeking new funding avenues. In it's time, WA Plastic Free worked with 30 members and saved 77,000 pieces of plastic. But watch this space!
Plastic Free SA
Commencing in September 2019, Plastic Free SA is our largest program to date. Operating in Adelaide and surrounds, the program was set up by Green Industries South Australia to support businesses leading up to the proposed single-use plastic ban, due to be legislated very shortly. In February 2020, we hired a second staff member in the community to meet growing demand for the program services, and our latest data shows the program (which is still new) now having nearly 50 members and having eliminated over 40,000 pieces of plastic and rising!
Plastic Free Cairns and Plastic Free Townsville
The Queensland based projects only commenced in March 2020 and have unfortunately been stalled by café shutdowns. However, we continue to set up these projects and create partnerships in the communities to be ready to operate as soon as is feasible.
Our 6-month trials were set up late last year in Elsternwick and Mount Martha (both Victoria) to gauge what results a wider program might achieve. While still running, both trials have shown success, with 18 participating businesses in Elsternwick eliminating over 25,000 pieces of plastic since October, and 15 in Mount Martha eliminating over 15,000. Plastic bag data was not included in the results due the introduction of the bag ban.
For more information on all our programs, visit www.plasticfreeplaces.org
Boomerang’s Director, Jeff Angel attended the National Plastic Summit recently and reports some momentum on action was evident, but current commitments are unlikely to be enough. We advocated 5 core actions:
Phase-out problematic and unnecessary plastics. State and territories are moving towards ban laws but the Federal Government appears to be shying away from joining in with enforceable actions on business.
Mandate Australia’s National Packaging Targets within the Product Stewardship Act 2011. Stronger regulations on packaging is a pre-requisite for any effective policies to avoid, reduce, reuse or recycle plastics. The NSW government is supportive but the Commonwealth is not so keen, instead relying on voluntary action.
Immediately address packaging labelling and greenwashing, through:
- Mandating the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) to all product packaging
- Expanding the ARL to include reusable and compostable packaging
- Requiring a condition to use the ARL, that all packaging labelled as reusable, compostable or recyclable is reused, composted or recycled in practice and at scale.
Labelling is not of much use, if at the end of the collection phase, recycling does not occur. We await greater commitment from business and governments.
Implement the promised ban on the export of waste plastics coupled with the provision of Commonwealth and State investment in modernised composting and recycling facilities, and the setting of consistent recycled content procurement policies in all Australian jurisdictions.
Some progress here with a deadline set for the ban (June 2022) and significant funds being made available for new and expanded factories.
- Commit to a target for zero plastic packaging in landfill, incinerators and waste-to-energy facilities by 2025 in all jurisdictions. No action here – and there is a big push for incineration which is NOT part of the circular economy. Victoria recently capped it at 1million tonnes a year. NSW may weaken its current waste to energy rules.
Our long running campaign for a national container deposit scheme (CDS), supported by thousands of people and dozens of environment groups has had great success with the last two states joining up.
Tasmania is currently working on scheme design and will shortly convene an expert group to assess the NSW approach; and the Qld system which is beverage industry dominated. We believe that big bottlers like Coke and Lion should not be responsible for the rollout of collection points as it is in their interest to reduce refunds (which are imposed on all sales) with inconvenient facilities. NSW has a separate network operator.
Victoria announced its new recycling strategy with CDS as a centrepiece. It’s the second biggest market in Australia so the stakes are high as to who controls the CDS. It will start in 2023 or sooner. We will be working hard over the next 12 months to get the best CDS in both states.
There are exciting developments around the country when it comes to new laws to reduce Single Use Plastics (the bad SUPs). Boomerang's Allies and other activists met via phone link up to share news.
South Australia, ACT and Queensland are all close to announcing or introducing legislation. We need to support these efforts and encourage other jurisdictions to follow suit. The NSW Government have just published their NSW Plastics Plan Discussion Paper—Cleaning Up Our Act: Redirecting the Future of Plastic in NSW and want your input as they develop legislation. See below for some of the questions they are asking you.
The first SUPs the lead states will be saying good bye to include:
- Plastic straws (with exemptions for medical use eg you will be able to buy them from chemists)
- Polystyrene cups and takeaway containers
- Plastic cutlery and stirrers
The other items Boomerang Alliance wants to see go in Phase 1 are:
- Plastic plates, bowls and cups
- Balloons and balloon sticks
Our Phase 2 target items:
- Coffee cups
- Thicker/ heavier weight plastic bags
- Wet wipes
- Barrier bags (used for dry goods)
- Sauce sachets
- Cigarette butts (a huge area!)
We will be encouraging and promoting alternative products eg reusable items first and then home compostable (to standard AS5810) and commercially compostable (AS4736) products and exposing “greenwash” ie, when products claim to be good for the environment when they actually are not.
Big news – tucked in on page 14 of the 30-page NSW Plastic Plan:
We intend to phase out lightweight plastic shopping bags (less than 35 microns think, including those made of 'degradable' and 'compostable' plastic) and are considering doing so within 6 months from passage of legislation (while avoiding the Christmas and New Year period).
Hip hip hooray!! Many people have spent years pushing for this – Plastic Bag Free NSW, Sophia Skarparis, Boomerang Allies and Greenpeace in particular. Take a bow!
Selected questions NSW wants to ask YOU:
- Why is it hard to use less plastic?
- How can the NSW government make it easier to use less plastic?
- How can business make it easier to use less plastic?
- Do you support the phase out of the listed plastic items and materials?
- Are there other plastics that should be phased out?
Don’t miss the chance to have your say! Deadline is 5pm on 8 May 2020
LEARNER AND PROVISIONAL PLATES UPDATE
As the NSW Dept of Transport seeks to avoid its role in L and P plate plastic litter - they recently advised us:
"The current plastic L and P plates are made from recyclable material, and are classified as Code 6 recyclable plastic. I am pleased to advise Transport for NSW is investigating alternative materials for L and P plates. The options include using a more durable material, so fewer plates are used over the tenure of a learner/provisional licence holder, and more environmentally friendly material." (8/2/20)
Saying the plates are ‘recyclable' is greenwash! That doesn’t mean they are collected for recycling or aren't treated as contamination and go to landfill. We won't let them off the hook.
A Year 12 TAS (Technical and Applied Studies) Student from Penrith area has contacted us as he is working on an improved design. He is active in the Youth Parliament and calling for change. Go Connor!
It's not too late to sign our petition to the NSW Government calling for change to stop this government issued plastic pollution. Pick up lost L & P plates and post them to your local State MP or the relevant Minister (address on petition page).
Did you know we use over 10 million plastic straws every day. Most are used for about 15 minutes and then thrown away either as waste or litter.
The Queensland Government has announced plans to introduce legislation to phase out certain plastic products and released a 'regulatory impact statement' (RIS) for public review. In the first stage of the phase-out, plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery and plates would not be allowed to be supplied to the public from July 2021. The phase-out may include, after further analysis, coffee cups, other plastics and heavyweight plastic bags.
You can see the RIS and comment at:
https://www.qld.gov.au/environment/pollution/management/waste/recovery/reduction/plastic-pollution/reducing-plastic. There is a short survey you can take on-line, or use the submission below - closing date 15 April 2020.
The government is assessing four choices to eliminate these plastic products - (1) Maintain the status quo (2) Ban these products from use (3) Implement a state-wide education campaign (4) Provide more litter collection.
Boomerang Alliance says there is only one option - Ban these products (2). There are available and preferred options for all of them, and, as the plastic bag ban has shown, litter will be drastically reduced. In the first year of the lightweight plastic bag ban, plastic bag litter reduced by 70%.
Did you know that a recent international IPSOS ‘Throwaway World’ poll on attitudes to single use plastics found that 69% of Australians favoured a ban on single use plastics, and as soon as possible.
Email your submission (template below) to: WastePolicy@des.qld.gov.au
or post to:
Single Use Plastic Consultation
Department of Environment and Science
Office of Resource Recovery
PO Box 2454
I support a Queensland ban on plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery and plates, with coffee cups, other plastic items and heavyweight shopping bags added as soon as possible (taking into account the needs of people with a disability). This is the most effective way to reduce plastic litter and reduce the terrible impact on wildlife from plastic pollution.
There are preferred alternatives to all these products that include not using them or having reusable products instead. If the Government plans to allow compostable alternatives, these should be required to meet the Australian compost standards for this type of packaging (AS 4736-commercial AS 5810-home).
The governments has NOT included polystyrene cups or polystyrene containers such as clam shells in the first stage of the phase-out. These polystyrene items should be included now. They are a particularly bad litter problem, have plenty of alternatives and we note that polystyrene products are included in similar proposed bans in South Australia and the ACT.
Your name and address (and signature if posting)
Did you know that 75% of marine debris found around the coastline of Australia is plastic, and comes from local land-based sources?
The New South Wales Government has released its Cleaning Up Our Act- Redirecting the Future of Plastics in NSW Discussion Paper. It is seeking your views on how plastic waste and litter could be reduced, with four outcomes:
- The phase-out of single use plastics
- Tripling the proportion of plastics recycled in NSW by 2030
- Reducing plastic litter by 25% by 2025
- Making NSW a leader in plastic research and innovation
A welcome, long awaited promise is to phase-out lightweight plastic shopping bags (less than 35 microns thick, including those made from degradable and 'compostable' plastic).
You can read the discussion paper and respond via their simple or longer survey at https://yoursay.dpie.nsw.gov.au/plastics-plan - we encourage you to make a submission (closing date 8 May). You can make an individual submission by sending your views (key points below) to - firstname.lastname@example.org.
The more submissions that support a single use plastics phase-out, the more likely it is to happen. Please act as soon as possible.
I support urgent action to eliminate problematic and unnecessary single use plastics in NSW, including:
- A ban of lightweight plastic bags (including degradable and ‘compostable’ bags) in 2020
- A ban on single-use plastic takeaway items such as straws, stirrers, cutlery, plates/bowls, coffee cups/lids, containers and heavyweight plastic bags in 2021
- An immediate ban on polystyrene cups, bowls and containers
- An investigation into and future policies designed to reduce other single use plastics in the home, in retail, business and industry, agriculture and used in the marine environment
Your Name and address
In August 2016, the Western Australian Government under the then Liberal Premier, Colin Barnett announced that it would commit to a container deposit scheme. In September 2017, after an election, the WA Government, under ALP Premier Mark McGowan confirmed that the WA CDS would indeed go ahead and that it was scheduled to commence in January 2019.
In light of the implementation of a state-wide ban on lightweight plastic shopping bags and acknowledgement of the criticisms arising from a short implementation period for the NSW CDS in 2017, a decision was taken by the McGowan government to delay the establishment of the scheme until early 2020, to allow adequate time to plan and implement the scheme effectively across Australia’s largest state.
Legislation to establish the scheme – The Waste Avoidance Resource Recovery Amendment (Container Deposit) Bill 2018 – was passed in the WA Parliament in March, 2019, after a public consultation that received more than 3000 submissions and demonstrated an overwhelming level of public support for the scheme.
The WA Government estimates that over a 20-year period, the scheme will prevent more than 700 million beverage containers from entering the litter stream and almost 6 billion containers from being sent to landfill, with a net positive benefit to the WA economy of more than $150 million. It is also anticipated that the scheme will create around 500 jobs in support of the infrastructure and processing frameworks that will emerge as the scheme gets underway.
Boomerang Alliance has been actively supporting the WA Government work to design the CDS scheme and we look forward to its implementation early in 2020.
This page was last updated on 25 March 2019
The South Australian Container Deposit Scheme is the legacy Australian scheme, having commenced in 1977. Collecting more than 600 million containers in 2017-18 and employing more than 5,000 people across the state through waste and recycling services, the South Australian scheme received a National Trust Heritage Icon Award in 2017. The award recognised the positive impact that the scheme has had in reducing litter and conserving the state’s environment over its 40 years of operation.
The ongoing benefits of the scheme are readily apparent. SA reports that beverage containers make up less than 3% of the state’s litter stream, which represents the lowest percentage in any Australian state. Similarly, the SA Environment Protection Authority reports a return rate of 76.9% for eligible beverage containers. In addition, the scheme proudly boasts a long history of supporting charities and community groups like the SA Scouting Association, which have benefited significantly from revenue received in the form of refunds donated by the SA community over many years.
This page was last updated on 25 March 2019
The ACT Government announced in September 2016 that they would introduce a Container Deposit Scheme (CDS) in early 2018 to reduce litter, recover eligible containers, increase the recycling rates of used beverage containers and help engage the community in active and positive recycling behaviours.
The scheme was officially launched on June 30th, 2018 and reported the collection of more than 450,000 containers in the first month of operation, equating to more than $45,000 in refunds paid out.
The ACT scheme is operated through a combination of Bag Drop and Go locations for returns of up to 500 containers, and Bulk Depots which can handle the return of more than 500 containers at a time. The return points are operated by charities including Vinnies, the Salvos and Anglicare, which benefit through the receipt of deposits donated by the ACT community, as well as driving increased shopper traffic to the charities’ stores and helping to increase sales revenue.
The scheme has also provided a great social enterprise model, providing employment opportunities for people with disabilities under the NDIS, through organisations such as LEAD and Sharing Places.
The materials being collected through the ACT CDS are also finding uses. Glass, plastics and other recyclables are being combined into a new road surfacing material called Reconophalt, which is being trialled in road projects around Canberra.
For a full list of returns points in the ACT, visit the ACT CDS website: https://actcds.com.au/return-points/
The ACT CDS is administered by the ACT Government under the Waste Management and Resource Recovery Amendment ACT 2017 and the Waste Management and Resource Recovery (Container Deposit Scheme) Amendment Regulation 2018 (No 1)
This page was last updated on 25 March 2019
The Northern Territory’s Container Deposit Scheme was initially implemented in January 2012, but the scheme’s introduction wasn’t all smooth sailing. Despite some 35 million containers being collected in the first 12 months, beverage companies including, Coca Cola, Lion and Schweppes, mounted a legal challenge against the scheme in December 2012. The beverage producers argued that the NT CDS contravened the Commonwealth Mutual Recognition Act, which seeks to ensure that products and services provided in Australian states and territories are done so under consistent conditions.
In March 2013, the beverage suppliers won the court battle and the scheme ceased operation, in the face of significant frustration from the NT community. Activist group ‘Out of Order’ responded by placing 'Out of Order' signs on Coca Cola Amatil vending machines in capital cities across Australia, intending to deliver a blow to drink sales nationwide for a brief period.
The NT Government, however, was determined to continue the fight and covered the cost of deposits to keep the scheme in action, while launching an appeal through the Council of Australian Governments (COAG). Ultimately, the Federal Executive Council (ExCo) agreed and the NT scheme was reinstated in August 2013, forcing the beverage companies to resume the repayment of deposits on eligible containers.
While the impost of the NT CDS on the beverage companies was relatively small, it is believed that the court action in the NT was designed to demonstrate the financial power of the beverage manufacturers in the hope of discouraging other jurisdictions from considering implementation of similar schemes.
Thankfully, the NT Government held its ground and placed environmental concerns ahead of big business pressure. The NT CDS continues to grow in popularity, having reached more than 84% returns in the 2018-19 financial year – a massive increase on the previous very low recycling rate. See the regular reports.
The NT scheme is administered by the NT Environment Protection Agency under the Environment Protection (Beverage Containers and Plastic Bags) Act 2011
This page was last updated on 25 March 2019