Riding the plastic free wave
In 2014, CSIRO found that two thirds of the marine debris found along out coastlines is plastic.
It also found that this plastic was mostly from local sources.
In 2015, the National Litter Index cited Queensland as the most littered state in Australia.
Sobering statistics. Plastic litter in the environment is an eyesore, a pollutant, a threat to wildlife and, according to recent reports, a potential threat to human health.
However, Queensland is changing – and changing fast.
The introduction of the Container Refund Scheme and plastic bag ban will reduce plastic litter. They are recognised as good first steps in addressing plastic pollution.
According to the Boomerang Alliance, a national organisation representing a wide range of allied organisations focused on waste, litter and pollution issues, there is more that can be done to address the many other forms of disposable plastics found in our litter and waste streams.
And Queensland councils are rising to the challenge.
Plastic free case study
Plastic Free Noosa, an initiative led by the Boomerang Alliance, is a pilot project that focusses around a systematic, source reduction approach to a whole community reducing its use of disposable, single-use plastics.
The project works with individuals and businesses to help them switch from single-use plastics to better alternatives and is supported by Noosa Shire Council.
Noosa Mayor Tony Wellington said the initiative was endorsed by resolution of Council in July 2017.
“Choosing to become plastic free is an ideal that can be embraced by communities anywhere.
It’s really about accepting that behaviour change is not only possible, but in the case of plastics use, inevitable,” he said.
Boomerang Alliance Project coordinator Kellie Lindsay said they worked to deliver real solutions to businesses.
“It isn’t enough to just ask them to remove plastic.
“What their barriers to transition are, how they create a viable business model, what they change to, where they can get it and where that product ends up is important as well.”
The benefits to the community are tangible. The project, which began working with businesses in February, now has over 100 business members, with 25 of these having eliminated their plastic and been crowned ‘Plastic Free Champions’.
Champions are promoted though partnerships with local radio and newspapers, as well as recognised through social media and online.
Local champion Noosa restaurant Bombetta said the switch was easy.
“Plastic free Noosa helped make the switch so easy. We were surprised at how great the new compostable products were.
Our customers love it, they’re really supportive and we’ve had so much positive feedback.”
Tourism Noosa’s Industry Development Manager said that as an official partner to the campaign, Tourism Noosa wanted Noosa to be the ultimate green destination for visitors.
“We’d love to see all businesses remove plastic options. Plastic free Noosa is great for our economy and our environment,” she said.
Marine pollution under the microscope
Elsewhere, marine pollution like plastic straws have been under the microscope in councils across Queensland. In May, Brisbane City Council banned plastic straws, single-use plastic bottles and helium balloons.
Moreton Bay, Cassowary Coast and Cairns Regional councils banned plastic straws earlier this year after 10-year-old Molly Steer's Straw No More campaign.
The pint-sized lobbyist challenged other councils attending a Future Cities Summit in Cairns in July to follow suit.
Local Government Association of Queensland
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