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, and putting an end to polystyrene consumer packaging.
Among the actions identified that will impact the packaging industry are: an end to expanded polystyrene consumer packaging fill by July 2022 and polystyrene food and beverage containers by December 2022, new labelling guidelines to help consumers, and ensuring 100 per cent of all packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable.
Launching the nation’s first National Plastics Plan in Brisbane, Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley said it was time to change the way plastics is produced and consumed, 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,” 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.”
Other actions identified include:
- A plastic-free beaches initiative
- 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 by 2025
- A second plastics summit focusing on sustainable design.
Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Trevor Evans said the 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.”