They begin life as fossil fuels and end it by turning into deadly ocean and landfill waste. Plastic bags take years to decompose, and when they finally do, the toxic chemicals that made them leach into the environment around them. There is no safe way to dispose of them because however you do, they poison the world.
They also pose a direct threat to nature right now. If they end up in bodies of water, hungry animals mistake plastic bags for food. Birds and fish often fall prey to these materials, and it’s transferred up the food chain as something larger eats it. Finally, people consume these toxic microplastics through the air and food.
According to the WWF, humans consume a credit card equivalent of plastic each week. If that isn’t enough to scare you, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation projects that by 2050, the sea will be home to more plastic than fish. The more plastic we produce, the more plastic will end up in our oceans, seas, and landfills which means more greenhouse gases and pollution.
In Australia, New South Wales has the highest level of plastic consumption, and by a large margin. Use was estimated at 1.1 million tonnes when the whole of Australia used 3.5 million tonnes. Around 120,000 tonnes of that ends up in our waterways. It is, for this reason, we need to reduce our use of plastic and be more mindful of the materials we use.
It isn’t just plastic bags we use; there is plastic in loads of things we use daily. In early 2020, Canberra hosted the National Plastics Summit, led by Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley. The purpose of this one-day event was to discuss and further National Waste Policy Action Plan targets.
The biggest target for the average Australian is that by 2030, we will have reduced our individual total waste by 10%. While there are steps many of us can take, corporate buy-in is also important. The event affirmed that major companies such as Nestle, McDonald’s, and the Pact Group will take steps to reduce plastic use. For example, McDonald’s prevented almost 600 tonnes of waste by phasing out plastic cutlery.
The Plastic Picture Around Australia
Let’s put it into perspective. According to WWF, less than 12% of plastic is recycled annually, and each Australian is believed to use around 130 kg. Banning plastic bags certainly won’t end the problem, but it is a good place to start, and so far, five states have committed to banning the use of single-use plastics.
As of March 1, 2021, South Australia banned single-use plastics. This includes stirrers, cutlery, and straws. Further bans, coming March 1, 2022, include oxo-degradable plastics and polystyrene containers used for food and drinks.
Originally, the plan was WA was to eliminate single-use plastic by the end of 2023. However, they have fast-tracked those plans, with most single-use plastic to be banned by the end of 2021, with the rest following in 2022.
Queensland’s ban on single-use plastics came into effect on the 1st of September 2021. It includes polystyrene containers, plates, bowls, stirrers, cutlery, and straws. By the end of 2021, plastic bowls, plates, cups, lids, straws, cutlery, polystyrene, and thick plastic bags will also be out.
Victoria aims to ban the use of single-use plastics by February 2023. This includes straws, plates, polystyrene, cutlery, and stirrers.
The Australian Capital Territory
While the ACT was one of the first to announce a ban on single-use plastics, theirs did not take effect until the 1st of July, 2021. There are a vast number of items on the ban list, with more to be phased out as of the 1st of July 2022.
While New South Wales hasn’t announced a plan yet, they have signalled a move to end the use of single-use plastics by 2025. While both the Northern Territory and Tasmania limit the use of single-use plastic bags, they have made no further commitments on other single-use plastics.
Solving The Plastic Crisis
Everyone has an individual responsibility to reduce their use of plastic. You can make an impact by changing your habits and recycling more at home. Always look at labels and packaging for the Australian Recycling Label, so you know what to recycle where. You can also make a difference by refusing to shop with or support businesses that don’t have a plan to reduce their waste.
The Australian Food and Grocery Council aim to recycle an additional 190,000 tonnes of plastic annually by 2025. The program will first focus on ensuring soft plastics don’t end up in landfills. The next step of the plan is to increase overall recycling.
Plastic made life more convenient, it simplified things, but that was a short-term solution that has had long-term effects on the environment we live in.
Whether you’re spring cleaning or preparing for a renovation, rubbish removal is a great way to limit what goes to landfills. If you use a professional rubbish removal Sydney service like Cheapest Load of Rubbish, we can ensure that recyclable items go to the correct facility. Give us a call, and we’ll come out to your home or office to assess your waste situation. It’s a convenient, affordable, and environmental way to remove waste.