Every day in Australia, we use 10 million plastic bags, throw away 2.7 million takeaway coffee cups and waste enough bottles and cans to stretch over 4000km – that’s the whole way across the country!
Did you know that it takes up to 400 years for plastic to break down in water, and even then, it ends up in tiny pieces that are harmful to marine life? According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050 – this means you’d be more likely to see a piece of rubbish than a fish when snorkeling.
What is being done about it?
At the moment, lightweight plastic bags are banned in all Australian states and territories except for NSW and Victoria, however Victoria is implementing a ban in October. Even then – Coles and Woolworths have implemented their own initiative in NSW and have stopped the use of light weight non-reusable plastic bags.
In NSW, NT and SA there are container deposit schemes that encourage the return of any plastic bottles, aluminium etc. for earnings of around 10c per piece. This has been running in SA for over 40 years and the return rate is about 80%, meaning 80% of containers bought are returned instead of being thrown out into waste. This means that bottles and cans make up only 2 per cent of litter in South Australia, compared to almost 44 per cent in NSW where the deposit has only recently been implemented. QLD and WA are implementing schemes between November and January next year, however VIC, ACT and TAS have no schemes at all.
SO what can you do at home?
You may think it’s too hard to break your current habits, however South Australia is a great example of how it can become a normal part of your routine!