The Greens have a plan for a plastic free sea starting with a phase out of single-use plastics and polystyrene in NSW
The build-up of plastic in our marine environment is at unprecedented and growing levels, with scientists predicting there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050.
According to the CSIRO, more than 350 million pieces of plastic litter Australia’s coastline and 35 billion pieces are floating in Australian waters. Plastic pollution in our waterways and oceans are choking marine life and have entered the food chain.
The Greens have a plan to stop single-use plastics making their way into the ocean and harming marine life by stopping them at their source. This plan backs up community calls for state governments to regulate the retail sector to ensure consumers have plastic-free options, while providing the framework for a fair transition for retailers.
With progressive governments in South Australia and the ACT looking to ban single-use plastics, the European Union introducing a ban by 2021, and the Australian Senate Inquiry calling for a ban by 2023, the time is now for NSW to take strong action and join the global movement away from single-use plastics.
OUR PLAN FOR A PLASTIC FREE SEA
1. Phase out all single-use plastics by 2023*
The Greens plan will phase out all single-use plastics products by 2023 in line with the Senate Inquiry recommendations. Under our plan there will be an immediate ban on easily replaceable products including:
- Plastic bags
- Polystyrene food and drink containers
- Plastic straws
By 2023 all other single use plastics will be phased out including:
- Plastic cutlery
- Plastic food containers
- Non-compostable cigarettes
- Plastic beverage containers.
* There will be exemptions applied to the single-use plastics phase out to ensure the needs of those who, because of a physical or other condition, need those items to be able to eat or drink safely, independently and in comfort, or for medical, therapeutic or health-related purposes, are met.
2. Introduce compulsory marine plastic targets for industry and government
Both industry and government will be required to develop plans to work towards the following targets:
- For the amount of plastic waste currently entering the marine environment to be reduced by 90% by 2020
- For all packaging used in NSW to be either ‘recyclable, compostable or reusable’ by 2023
- For the elimination of all plastic resin pellets used in industrial processes entering the marine environment by 2020
- For all washing machines sold in NSW to be fitted with a lint filter that traps microfibres and microplastics by 2023
- For all stormwater drains to be fitted with litter-catching baskets by 2020.
To ensure both industry and government achieve these targets and are working towards fixing our waste crisis an independent NSW Waste Commissioner will be established.
3. Government investment in a Plastic Free Sea
The Greens have been calling for the $2.1 billion NSW Waste and Environment Levy to be invested into fixing our growing waste crisis. We want to see some of this money invested in:
- Supporting local government, retail organisations and community groups to develop Plastic Free Community Plans where communities decide together to develop targets and plans to reduce plastic waste in their local community. See Plastic Free Noosa.
- Public infrastructure like water refill stations
- Research and development of recyclable and compostable plastics
This is one part of the Greens ‘Towards Zero Waste Plan’ of which further details will be announced.