Plans, bans and policies: Where are we up to with plastics?

Posted on 24 June 2021

For the past 100 years since their invention, plastics have revolutionised packaging for everyday products around the world. However, the 3.4 million tonnes used by Australians, or 136 kilograms per person, in one year alone has created significant environmental challenges including pollution of lands and waterways.

The good news is that the tide is turning on plastics at a government level to drive change from the top, as well as via simple actions taken every day by every one of us.

Positive signals from Federal and State governments

2021 has seen the release of both State and Federal Government policies to reduce and eventually eliminate unnecessary and problematic plastics.

The Australian Government introduced the National Plastics Plan. The Plan has five key areas in which it plans to transform plastics in Australia through:

  • Prevention
  • Recycling
  • Consumer education
  • Our oceans and waterways, and
  • Research

The Plan will help to bring together the different work done by the States and Territories and industry to move Australia towards a circular economy.

The NSW Government also released their NSW Plastics Action Plan which forms part of the 20-year Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy. The NSW Plan has a timetable to phasing out the most littered plastic items including straws, microbeads in personal care items and plastic cutlery.

Designing ‘out’ waste

Plastic packaging is one of the more challenging plastics to avoid as we rely heavily on it in the food and health industry amongst others.

However, the Australian Packaging Covenant (APCO) has worked with industry to developed an Action Plan for problem packaging and single use plastics in industry to reduce our reliance on these plastics and meet the objectives in the National Plastics Plan.

Commitments like this puts Australia in a good position to shift towards a circular economy and reduce plastics from entering our environment.

Every action counts – start now! 

Driven by increasing awareness and care for our environment, people all over the world are choosing alternatives to single-use plastics as well as recycling what they can.

And there’s no better time to start or boost your efforts during Plastic Free July. This is a global movement empowering millions of individuals and organisations to be part of the solution to plastic pollution – meaning cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities.  The program is all about taking easy but impactful steps to remove unnecessary plastics from our daily lives.

You can start out small by making one small commitment, like remembering your reusable shopping bag, saying no to a plastic straw, bringing your reusable coffee cup and only buying loose fruit and veggies. No matter how small or big you want to go, take the challenge at https://www.plasticfreejuly.org/.  

What is Waverley Council doing?

Waverley Council is a proud sponsor of the Plastic Free July Challenge to help our community avoid single-use plastics. By taking small, practical steps towards minimising our reliance on single-use plastics, we can reduce the amount of waste that ends up in landfill.

Waverley Council keeps soft plastics out of landfill and circulating in our economy by:  

  • Recycling soft-plastics and polystyrene through our Problem Waste Drop Off events.
  • Recycling plastics collected in our stormwater gross pollutant traps
  • Building road surfaces using an innovative product called Reconophalt, that incorporates soft plastics, glass bottles and printer toner.

Thanks for making plastic-free choices second nature.

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.