Plastic Pollution Reduction Plan outlines way forward to tackle single-use plastics

Published Thursday, 07 November, 2019 at 10:20 AM

Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for the Arts
The Honourable Leeanne Enoch

The Palaszczuk Government is proposing to ban single-use plastics and wants to know what Queenslanders think of the state’s next phase of the war on waste.

Minister for Environment and Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch today released Queensland’s Plastic Pollution Reduction Plan, which sets out the proposed way forward for dealing with single-use plastics in our state.

“There is a growing concern amongst Queenslanders about the amount of plastic being used in everyday life,” Ms Enoch said.

“Majority of Queenslanders (seven out of ten) already take steps to reduce their use of single-use plastics, but 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.

“One of these actions is to introduce legislation next year, subject to consultation through a Regulatory Impact Statement, to ban the supply of plastic products including plastic straws, cutlery, plates and stirrers.

“And, we will also conduct an analysis to possibly extend the ban down the track to include coffee cups, plastic cups and heavy-weight shopping bags.”

Minister Enoch said this Plan delivered on the commitment made in the 2017 election to develop a plastic pollution reduction plan for Queensland.

Ms Enoch said other actions the Palaszczuk Government was taking included 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% compostable alternative,” Minister 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.

“This is why we will undertake extensive consultation to ensure these needs are appropriately understood and addressed, and put in place exemptions in this regard.”

Minister Enoch said where appropriate, it is possible to stamp out single-use plastics.

“We know it can be done – we’ve seen the success of the Plastic Free Noosa project, which more than 200 businesses have signed up to, and has helped remove more than three million single-use plastic items out of the waste stream.”

Minister Enoch said 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.

“We will also identify and develop new businesses and markets to transform the way plastic is recovered, reused and recycled—creating new jobs and industries for Queensland,” she said.

“We want a bright future for Queensland, and tackling plastic will help ensure we leave this state a better place for our future generations.”

Boomerang Alliance are delivering the successful Plastic Free Places model in Noosa, Cairns and Townsville with funding from the Queensland Government.

“Our 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,” said Queensland Boomerang Alliance Manager Toby Hutcheon.

“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.”

The Plastic Pollution Reduction Plan can be found here:

Media contact: 0437 859 987

Fast Facts

  • About 300 million tonnes of plastic waste is produced every year, almost equivalent to the weight of the entire human population.
  • Half of all plastic produced is designed to be used only once—and then thrown away. Less than one-fifth of all plastic is recycled globally.
  • At least 8 million tonnes of plastics leak into the ocean each year—which is equivalent to dumping more than 170 wheelie bins of plastic into the ocean every minute.
  • Around 800 species worldwide, including 77 Australian species, are impacted by marine debris.
  • Over 75% of rubbish that is removed from Australian beaches is made of plastic.
  • Turtles have a 20% chance of dying if they ingest just one piece of plastic, and over 70% of loggerhead turtles found dead in Queensland waters have ingested plastic.
  • Plastic in the marine environment is long-lived—for example, a 30–40 year old plastic bag was found in a Sunshine Coast waterway.
  • Research has shown that 7 in 10 Queenslanders are taking steps to reduce their consumption of single-use plastics when away from home.