Plastic forks and cutlery in nature

7 Nov 2019


The World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia has welcomed a proposal to ban single-use plastic items in Queensland and is calling for national action on single-use plastics when federal, state and territory environment ministers meet tomorrow in Adelaide.

The Queensland Government today released a plastic pollution reduction plan, which proposes a ban on the supply of plastic straws, cutlery and plates. Queensland also plans to conduct analysis to potentially extend the ban to include coffee cups, plastic cups and heavy-weight shopping bags.

WWF-Australia’s No Plastics in Nature Policy Manager, Katinka Day said it was extremely encouraging to see Queensland take action on the most problematic plastics. If implemented, the plan would see Queensland become the leading state in WWF-Australia’s plastics scorecard, which rates the performance of states and territories in tackling single-use plastics.

“Plastic items like straws, plates and utensils are some of the most littered plastics on our beaches. These items are often discarded after a single-use, ending up in landfill or our waterways for hundreds of years,” said Ms Day.

“Queensland’s announcement today sends a very clear message that Australians want to see action on plastics. With some of our most populous states failing to ban single-use plastics, we’re looking to this Friday’s meeting of environment ministers to see national action on this issue.”

WWF-Australia has delivered a brief containing five asks to federal, state and territory ministers ahead of their meeting in Adelaide on Friday to ensure urgent action is taken on plastic pollution.

Ms Day said investment in modernising Australia’s recycling sector was one of the key asks for ministers.

“The federal government’s ban on the export of waste presents a unique opportunity to enhance and innovate Australia’s recycling sector,” said Ms Day.

“If we are to process all the plastic waste we currently export, the government needs to first invest in modernising and scaling up our domestic recycling sector."

“The inefficiencies in Australia’s waste management system is one of the biggest challenges for the sector. Of the 3.4 million tonnes of plastic consumed in Australia, only 9.4% is recycled. The rest ends up as landfill or leaks into the natural environment, with up to 130,000 tonnes of plastic entering our waterways and oceans each year.”

The brief sent to ministers also calls for governments to phase out problematic single-use plastics, expand container deposit schemes, improve the design of plastic packaging and take action on plastic pollution on the global stage.

Ms Day said Friday’s meeting would highlight whether governments are serious about tackling plastic pollution.

“We’re looking to environment ministers to take real and tangible actions that reduce our use of plastic and improve the way we recycle it. While the current trajectory for plastics growth shows the crisis is expanding, we can change this through coordinated action by state, territory and federal leaders,” she said.

WWF-Australia’s five asks for environment ministers:

  1. Phase out the most problematic and unnecessary single-use plastics and expand container deposit schemes.
  2. Invest in modernising and scaling up Australia’s recycling sector.
  3. Improve the economics and quality of plastic packaging recycling through legislated extended producer responsibility.
  4. Join other developed countries to tackle critical waste infrastructure gaps in Asia where leakage of plastic is greatest.
  5. Agree to sign onto an international agreement to eliminate plastic leakage into the oceans.

WWF-Australia is also asking people to show their support for a ban on the 10 worst single-use plastics.