Time to give a toss about plastic
Paul Murray, Foxtel’s number 1 talk show host, is back with his weekly wisdom
MCDONALD’S DRINK CONTAINERS, WITH LIDS AND STRAWS, COMPRISE THE MAJOR PART OF THE LITTER WE PICK UP EACH WEEK.
LET’S stop being tossers.
By now, everybody knows about the adverse impacts of plastic pollution on our environment. The impacts on our oceans, and marine life are a major concern. In Queensland alone it is estimated that close to one billion single-use plastic shopping bags are used each year; about 16 million of which end up in the environment, rather than landfill. On July 1, retailers will no longer be able to supply singleuse lightweight plastic shopping bags less than 35 microns in thickness to customers. This includes compostable, degradable and biodegradable bags as they break down in the environment in the same way as conventional plastic shopping bags; and can still harm the environment and wildlife.
Over the last six months I have participated in six major clean-ups in the mangroves and foreshore areas around Yeppoon with Cap Coast
Landcare. On top of that we regularly collect bags of rubbish on our biweekly work days, along with weeding, planting and general site maintenance.
Much of the debris collected consists of plastic bags, drink bottles, straws, bottle tops and lids from disposable cups.
There are also myriad aluminium cans, glass bottles, Styrofoam cups and takeaway food containers. Then there are the hard-to-retrieve items such as car tyres, shopping trolleys, corrugated sheets, mattresses and other assorted household items.
The plastic bag ban is just the first of two initiatives being implemented by the Queensland Government to reduce the amount of debris in our environment; and killing our marine life.
The next will be the cash for containers scheme, to be launched in November this year. They are a welcome move to deal with this immense problem, but there is still much more we can do.
Takeaway outlets, particularly the large chains, need to re-think the materials they use in their food and drink containers; they should also install recycling bins in and around their outlets.
McDonald’s drink containers, with lids and straws, comprise the major part of the litter we pick up each week at our Fig Tree Creek site, across the road from the food outlet.
Perhaps there should also be a deposit on these Styrofoam cups and their plastic lids and straws, to make sure they are returned and disposed of properly until an alternative material can be found for their manufacture.
Regular marine debris clean-ups are all very well for reducing the amount of waste going into waterways, but we all need to look at how and why all this rubbish finds its way into the environment; and we need to reduce the amount of disposable material at its source.
To this end, Tangaroa Blue will be presenting a Marine Debris Source Reduction Workshop at the Keppel Bay Sailing Club.
It is a free event, and will be held on June 1, between 9am and 2pm. Light lunch/tea and coffee will be provided, and bookings are essential.
To book a place, email shelly @tangaroablue.org, or phone 0400 707 972.
EVERY BIT HELPS: Malcolm Wells collects marine debris in the mangroves at a Landcare clean-up.