The beginning of July has bought with it several milestones for the waste sector, with the NSW government hitting the 2-million-mark for its container deposit scheme (CDS) and Queensland contributing to the reduction of 900 million single-use plastic bags in the span of one year.
These achievements were met on July 1, when several other waste initiatives came into effect – proving there is a strengthened focus on waste by many states in Australia.
July 1 also market the day of Victoria’s e-waste to landfill ban commencing, and the re-introduction of a waste levy in Queensland. Across the ditch, New Zealand also enforced a ban on single-use plastic bags, including biodegradable and compostable bags, from to beginning of the month.
Marking a year since Queensland banned single-use lightweight plastic bags, Queensland’s Environment Minister, Leeanne Enoch, highlighted that the ban had contributed to a 70 per cent drop in plastic bag litter since this time last year.
“Before the ban was introduced last year, up to 16 million single use plastic shopping bags ended up in our environment every year.
“These have significant impacts on our environment, waterways and species.”
Enoch said there had been and “incredible drop” in single-use bags, with supermarkets such as IGA Springfield playing an enormous role in the ban’s success.
“In the last 12 months, this store alone has taken around 364,000 single use bags out of circulation, or about 7,000 per week, which is wonderful.
“Each bag that is taken out of circulation is one less bag that can end up in the environment or wasted in landfill,” Enoch said.
IGA Springfield store owner, Terry Slaughter, said customers had adjusted well to the changes.
“Many bring their own bags and have told us they are happy to play their part,” Slaughter said.
While, Queenslanders have been diligently reducing the number of single-use bags they acquire, the NSW CDS, Return and Earn, has seen its 2 billionth container returned.
In the 19 months of its existence, the NSW government has estimated that almost half of the adult population of NSW has participated in the CDS.
There has been a 57 per cent reduction in eligible container litter around the state, and the CDS has so far created more than 500 new jobs in the recycling and sustainability space, the NSW government reports.
These roles range from technicians maintaining the reverse vending machine network, to staff working at the Cleanaway Eastern Creek facility that handles about 80 per cent of the containers returned through the scheme.
About $440,000 in donations has also been raised by the CDS.