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Queensland releases Plastic Pollution Reduction Plan

The Queensland government released a Plastic Pollution Reduction Plan on November 7, which proposes a way forward for reducing and dealing with single-use plastics in the state.

Minister for Environment and Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch most Queenslanders (seven out of ten) are already taking steps to reduce their use of single-use plastics, but with a growing concern amongst Queenslanders about the amount of plastic being used in everyday life, there is always more we can do to tackle pollution.

“Both government and the community need to work together and while research shows Queenslanders are on board with tackling plastics, we will undertake extensive consultation with the community on this issue.

“This plan is an Australian first in its scope and structure, and takes a holistic approach to the complex nature and impacts of plastic throughout its supply chain, and identifies actions that can be taken,” Enoch said.

One of the actions includes introducing legislation in 2020, subject to consultation through a Regulatory Impact Statement, to ban the supply of plastic products including plastic straws, cutlery, plates and stirrers.

Enoch said that the government will also conduct an analysis to possibly extend the ban down the track to include coffee cups, plastic cups and heavy-weight shopping bags.

The government is also banning specific single-use plastic items from Queensland government sponsored events.

“All of these single-use plastic items we propose to ban have a preferred and available reusable or 100 per cent compostable alternative,” Enoch said.

“That is why we will introduce legislation to ban these items, following extensive consultation with the disability sector. We recognise there are some instances where banning plastics is not feasible – such as people with a disability who have not found bamboo, paper or metal alternatives suitable.”

Other actions in the Plastic Pollution Reduction Plan include increasing the uptake of recycled plastic materials in new products and investing in plastic recovery and reprocessing.

Boomerang Alliance is delivering a Plastic Free Places model in Noosa, Cairns and Townsville with funding from the Queensland government after a successful trial in Noosa, which saw more than 200 businesses commit to reducing single-use plastic consumption and helped remove more than three million single-use plastic items out of the waste stream.

Queensland Boomerang Alliance manager Toby Hutcheon said that the Noosa trial was enormously successful with more than three million single-use plastic items, such as straws, coffee cups and lids, plastic bags, plastic cutlery and takeaway containers eliminated in the past 18 months.

“The program works by signing up cafes, food outlets and events to work with a dedicated program coordinator towards eliminating their single-use plastic items and/or switching to biodegradable options.

“The success in Noosa and the cafes signing up in Cairns and Townsville, shows the program works – there is no reason the whole state can’t go plastic free,” Hutcheon said.