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Communities take control of their plastic footprint

Communities across Australia now have access to a “how to” guide to reduce plastic pollution in their parks, playgrounds, rivers and beaches.

What began as a campaign for a container deposit scheme has resulted in an alliance called Communities Taking Control, initiated by Boomerang Alliance: a group comprising 47 national, state and local allies all fighting to create healthy, plastic free environments.

This initiative, announced at this week’s Beyond Plastic Pollution conference at Darling Harbour in Sydney, aims to move beyond banning plastic bags to banning other forms of disposable plastics such as coffee cups, straws and takeaway containers.

“The impacts of significant pollution from plastic in the environment have begun to seriously alarm scientists, health professionals and communities,” Boomerang Alliance director Jeff Angel said.

“Our oceans, local waterways, marine and wildlife are being crippled by the sheer volumes of plastic, and with plastic now being found in our food and drinking water, it is clear the human food chain is already contaminated.”

Globally, 95 per cent of plastic packaging is used once and then discarded, mostly as litter, according to a 2016 Ellen MacArthur Foundation report. If this trend continues, researchers estimate the ocean is expected to contain one tonne of plastic for every three tonnes of fish by 2025, and by 2050, more plastics than fish [by weight].

Communities Taking Control provides tools and platforms to several environmental groups from surfers to recyclers to neighbourhood groups.

“All sectors of our society need to take action, and we’ve been pleased to see government, industry, NGOs and community members coming together to discuss and collaborate on the solutions to the plastic pollution crisis at the conference,” Mr Angel said.

“This is the way forward.”

Two pilot communities have been initiated in Noosa, Queensland and Wollongong, NSW.

In the first year, the initiative aims for:

  • the retail and hospitality industries to agree to supply preferred products (alternatives to single use plastics) to the public
  • schools and event organisers to hold plastic-free events
  • individuals to take up the plastic free challenge

Mr Angel said other programs with local businesses, festivals and schools were already in action to reduce the output of single-use plastics, and he hopes that Communities Taking Control will empower communities to bring systematic change.

“The widespread adoption of reusable consumer goods, and the transition of businesses towards reusables and non-plastic alternatives will have a huge positive impact on our environment.”

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