Fed govt releases first National Plastics Plan

Federal Government takes fight against plastic waste to a new level with new national plan.

The Federal Government is taking the fight against plastic waste to a new level, from plastic free beaches, to ending the confusion over household collection systems, declaring war on cigarette butts and putting an end to polystyrene consumer packaging.

Launching the Nation’s first National Plastics Plan in Brisbane, Environment Minister Sussan Ley, said it was time to change the way we produce and consume plastics, and that it was time for states, industry and consumers to work together in driving sustainable change.

“We know the problems, we know that there are good ideas out there, but this is the first national strategy, one that attacks the issue from all sides and which sets clear targets over the next decade,” Minister Ley said.

“Australians consume 1 million tonnes of single use plastic each year and it is simply unsustainable.

“From plastic bottles to polystyrene packaging and plastic consumer goods, we are creating mountains of pain for the environment and wasting potential assets that can be used to make new products.

“We are attacking the plastic problem on five key fronts, through: legislation, investment, industry targets, research and development, and community education.

“We want to work with companies, bring consumers with us and call out those companies which make false environmental claims about their products.”

Among the actions identified are:

  • A plastic free beaches initiative
  • New labelling guidelines to help consumers
  • An end to expanded polystyrene consumer packaging fill and polystyrene food and beverage containers
  • Greater consistency for kerbside bin collections, including food and organic waste options
  • Establishment of a task force to address the plastics in littered cigarette butts
  • Phase in microplastic filters in washing machines
  • Ensuring 100 per cent of all packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable
  • A second plastics summit focussing on sustainable design.

Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Trevor Evans said the world leading plan details the road to accelerating industry’s stewardship role and progress in achieving 2025 packaging targets.

“When we convened the first Plastics Summit in March last year, it was the first step on our plastics mission of bringing together leaders from industry, government and the community to identify new ideas and solutions to address the plastic challenge,” Evans said.

“This plan is our public pledge to change the way Australia produces and consumes plastics and is informed by the diverse range of stakeholders who attended the summit including industry, not-for-profit groups and of course, our school children who represent the next generation of leaders.”

“It is going to take time for us to establish a truly circular economy, one where all plastics are fully recycled, and where products are designed in ways that allow their components to be remanufactured at the ‘end of life’, but it needs to happen.”

“We are laying out a plan for change, a plan that will help our environment, create jobs and help get plastic waste out of our oceans, our waterways and our landfills.”

WMRR welcomes National Plastics Plan

The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) said the plan is not just a step in the right direction, it is the furthest the federal government has ever gone in driving a closed loop supply chain.

“WMRR congratulates the federal government for its leadership in this significant issue – plastic waste. This is the first time the federal government has stepped into the material space and it is encouraging that they are leading conversations which are starting to shift towards focusing on production and design, both of which are absolutely key to creating a true circular economy,” WMRR CEO, Gayle Sloan, said.

“This plan represents an opportunity for all Australian jurisdictions to work together on harmonised initiatives that will give Australia the best chance of working with the community to meet our national targets and aspirations, and there are interesting elements in the plan such as plastic-free beaches. The Australian community is one in its ambition to reduce the use of unnecessary plastics and having national cooperation and consistency will drive this agenda forward, ideally eliminating confusion.

“The penny has certainly dropped in many areas and we look forward to continued engagement with the government on how all stakeholders – manufacturers, the waste and resource recovery industry, governments, consumers and more – can come to the table to create a true circular economy across all material streams and not just a successful closed loop model.

“These high-level actions announced today are positive and welcome, but this is just the start of the journey; the details that will help us meet our goals and targets will need to be ironed out and our essential industry looks forward to working with all levels of government and other supply chain stakeholders as we strive ahead in our quest to build a sustainable Australia,” Sloan said.

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