Time to give a toss about plas­tic

Paul Mur­ray, Fox­tel’s num­ber 1 talk show host, is back with his weekly wis­dom

The Morning Bulletin - - OPINION - MAL­COLM WELLS


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.

Photo: Janet Schipke

EV­ERY BIT HELPS: Mal­colm Wells col­lects marine de­bris in the man­groves at a Land­care clean-up.

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