Bassendean Council to go plastic free with Boomerang Alliance

The Town of Bassendean, WA, has joined forces with Boomerang Alliance to create a “Plastic Free Bassendean”.

The move is part of Boomerang Alliance’s Communities Taking Control (CTC) program, which will work alongside the Council over a 12-month period and engage the business community to review supply chains and transition away from single-use plastics.

Related stories:

The program aims to achieve wide-scale change through a reduction at the source instead of through community action and will engage local businesses, events, markets and organisations to switch from single-use plastic items to sustainable alternatives.

Boomerang Alliance received funding from the WA Waste Authority in July to bring the CTC program to WA after three pilot programs on the east coast have helped to reduce six single-use plastic items from food service and hospitality outlets in Noosa, Byron Bay and Wollongong.

Early program evaluations found a reduction of more than 30,000 single-use plastic items in one community in less than a year. Boomerang Alliance anticipates the final results will demonstrate significantly higher levels of reduction.

Town of Bassendean Mayor Renee McLennan said the council is firmly committed to going plastic free.

“We have a number of initiatives already underway across the Council area, but the opportunity to partner with Boomerang Alliance to create ‘Plastic-Free Bassendean’ will help us turn our vision into reality,” Cr McLennan said.

Boomerang Alliance CTC Program Manager Kellie Lindsay said the organisation is excited to confirm a partnership with the Town of Bassendean to create WA’s first plastic-free community.

“The CTC model has undergone rigorous testing through our recent pilot programs and we are confident that we can use our knowledge and well-established supplier networks to facilitate a major shift away from single-use plastics in the Bassendean community,” Ms Lindsay said.

Boomerang Alliance Deputy Director Jayne Paramour said the organisation hopes this will be the beginning of a state-wide program to change the plastic pollution landscape in Perth and Across WA.

“We look forward to engaging a local coordinator in coming weeks, to get the program into full swing and to seeing the whole of WA take up the challenge to go plastic free,” Ms Paramour said.

New national targets set within 2025 packaging plan

New targets within the 2025 plan have been outlined alongside the launch of the Australasian Recycling Label.

The new targets aim to aim to increase the average recycled content within all packaging by 30 per cent and phase out problematic and unnecessary single-use plastic packaging through design, innovation or the introduction of alternatives.

Additionally, the targets aim to ensure 70 per cent of plastic packaging is recycled or composted.

These build on the previous announcement of a target to achieve 100 per cent of Australian packaging being recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025.

Related stories:

The targets build on commitments made by federal, state and territory environment ministers and the President for the Australian Local Government Association earlier in April this year.

Industry representatives and environmental groups support the targets including Aldi, ALGA, Amcor, Australia Post, Boomerang Alliance, Chep, Close the Loop, Coca-Cola Amatil, Coles, Detmold, Goodman Fielder, Lion, Metcash, Nestlé, Orora, Pact Group, Planet Ark, Redcycle, Simplot, Suez, Tetra Pak, Unilever, Veolia, Visy and Woolworths.

Woolworths General Manager, Quality and Sustainability Alex Holt highlighted the importance of this collaboration.

“We’re really pleased to see such a wide range of industry players come together in support of such a worthy goal. Moving towards a circular economy won’t be easy, but we have the right mix of organisations on board to help make it a reality,” Mr Holt said.

Federal Environment Minister Melissa Price congratulated the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) and the initial working group of businesses that are supporting the targets.

Minister Price has also officially launched the Australasian recycling Label to help achieve the 2025 National Packaging Targets, developed by Planet Ark, PREP Design and APCO to help consumers better understand how to recycle packaging.

“The Australasian Recycling Label provides people with easy to understand recycling information when they need it most, in those few seconds when they are deciding what bin the package goes in. The label removes confusion and reduces waste,” Ms Price said.

With more than 200 recycling labels currently being used in Australia, the new system aims to reduce confusion and contamination in the waste stream.

Nestlé Head of Corporate and External Relations Oceania Margaret Stuart said the inclusion of the label on Netslé’s packaging was a demonstration of the company’s commitment to sustainability.

“More and more people who buy our products want to know how to manage packing waste, so we have committed to implementing the Australasian Recycling Label across all our locally controlled products by 2020,” Ms Stuart said.

Unilever ANZ CEO Clive Stiff has said the announcements are a critical step towards greater collective action on increasing the nationals recycling capability.

“Plastic packaging waste represents an $80 billion loss to the global economy every year. The benefits of the circular economy approach are clear for business and the environment – the more effective use of materials means lower costs and less waste,” Mr Stiff said.

“We are proud to have recently announced that bottles of popular Unilever products like OMO, Dove, Sunsilk, Surf and TRESemmé will soon be made with at least 25% Australian recycled plastic.

“This is just the start for us and no business can create a circular economy in isolation. Heavy lifting is needed from all players involved – suppliers, packaging converters, brand owners, policy makers and retailers, collectors, sorters and recyclers. We need a complete shift in how we think about and use resources.”

Industry, government and community tackle plastic waste

Industry giants, community groups and government bodies came together to tackle the issue of plastic packaging waste in Australia.

Consumer goods manufacturers Coca Cola, Danone, Unilever and Kellogg’s, tech companies Fuji Xerox and Dell, supermarkets Coles and Aldi and senior figures from the NSW Environment Protection Authority met with local community groups to discuss the future of plastic packaging in consumer goods.

Related stories:

The event was hosted by the Boomerang Alliance with the support of Bloomberg Australia, and examined the infrastructure holes that need to be filled in order to improve Australia’s capacity for waste collection, processing and recycling.

Representatives from Clean Up Australia, Responsible Cafes, Bye Bye Plastic, Planet Ark, Close the Loop and the local Sydney councils of Randwick, Waverly and Inner West Councils also added to the discussion.

A guest panel of speakers shared their expertise and included Australian Packaging Covenant CEO Brooke Donnelly, Waste Management Association Australia CEO Gayle Sloan, Founder of BioPak Richard Fine, and Nature’s Organics CEO Jo Taranto.

Ms Sloan said every council’s waste management has the same definition in their contracts regarding what’s recyclable.

“We have conveyors and depending on the money and infrastructure available, they’ll use infrareds to split out the different types of plastics,” she said.

Most material recovery facilities do this but at a cost and we don’t have enough people buying back [the recycled material]. That’s the problem.”

Mr Fine said it is important that companies are marketing their products as compostable get certified to a recognised standard.

“There’s a lot of greenwashing out there providing vague claims of ‘biodegradable’ which is confusing the consumer and damaging the industry as a lot of these products will simply break down and fragment into small pieces,” he said.

Pictured left to right: Richard Fine, Brooke Donnelly, Justin Dowel, Jo Toranto, Gayle Sloan, Jayne Paramor.

No more plastic bags from Woolworths

Supermarket giant Woolworths has announced its supermarkets will no longer provide shoppers with single-use plastic bags from 20 June 2018.

The move also effects its BWS, Metro and Woolworths Petrol stores, where group wide more than 3.2 billion plastic bags are handed out each year.

Related stories:

Woolworths Group stated last year that it would end the use of plastic bags by the end of June 2018 in states where there had not been a ban implemented yet.

Woolworths Group Chief Executive Officer Brad Banducci said the company feels strongly that this is the right thing to do.

“Our teams have been working hard behind the scenes to accelerate the rollout of this plan so we can start making a positive impact on the environment as quickly as possible,” Mr Banducci said.

“We know this is a big change for our customers and store teams, and we need to do all we can to make the transition as seamless as possible for both.

“To this end, we have a dozen supermarkets across Australia going single-use plastic bag free from today. We’ll closely monitor feedback from customers in these stores and apply any lessons we learn to our national rollout on 20 June.”

The 12 Woolworths stores phasing out plastic bags from today are:

  • NSW – Woolworths Marayong, Greenway Village, Dural, Mullumbimby
  • VIC – Woolworths Wyndham Vale, Taylors Lakes, Toorak
  • QLD – Woolworths Mossman, Noosa Civic
  • WA – Woolworths Singleton, South Fremantle, Cottesloe

Planet Ark Chief Executive Officer Paul Klymenko said this is a welcome move by Woolworths that will have a positive effect on the environment.

“Single-use plastic bags have become a huge problem for Australia’s oceans and waterways where they cause significant harm to turtles, whales and fish. They also don’t breakdown in landfill and require significant resources to manufacture in the first place,” Mr Klymenko said.

“Experiences in countries like the UK and Ireland have shown the introduction of small charges on plastic bags can end up reducing plastic bag usage by up to 85 percent as shoppers embrace reusable alternatives, and we have every confidence this can happen in Australia too,” he said.

Boomerang Alliance Director Jeff Angel said the community wants action on the alarming growth of plastic pollution.

“It is gratifying to see retailers like Woolworths moving on plastic bags to help save our oceans and wildlife, with international scientific consensus putting bags in the top three dangers of ingestion and entanglement of marine life,” Mr Angel said.

“We encourage shoppers to adopt reusable bags. Of course, there’s much more to do in stores to reduce our plastic footprint and we look forward to working with consumers, retailers and government to push the agenda along,” he said.

Woolworths has also said it aims to offer flexible plastic recycling options in all supermarkets via the REDcycle program. REDcycle allows customers to return soft plastic packaging used for produce, frozen food, confectionary packets and shopping bags that are then sent to recycling partners. The material collected are then turned into products like outdoor furniture.

Big Bottle Tour of regional Victoria for container deposit scheme

A three-metre-long soft drink bottle will tour regional Victoria to call for a statewide container deposits scheme.

The Boomerang Alliance, representing 47 community groups and local government organisations, aims to rally thousands of Victorians and local MPs to encourage the state government to install a container deposit recycling scheme.

Related stories:

Currently, Victoria and Tasmania are the only two states that do not have a scheme planned or implemented in Australia.

The ‘Big Bottle Tour’ will begin in Stawell on Saturday 31 March and continue for two weeks travelling from Warrnambool, Port Fairy, Melbourne, Mildura, Echuca, Beechworth, Bendigo, Castlemaine and Ballarat.

The tour will collect drink containers along the way and deliver them to the premier, along with a message from regional Victora about the importance of waste and littering issues in regional communities.

Landcare, Coastcare, Boomerang Bags and Plasticwise groups, and the Scouts have joined the Boomerang Alliance to highlight the benefits of these types of schemes in local communities.

“With the recycling industry in Victoria on the brink of collapse due to contaminated kerbside collections, the Victorian Government needs to act quickly to implement a viable long-term solution that will deliver clean material acceptable for recycling and grow domestic reprocessing,” said Director of Boomerang Alliance Jeff Angel.

“Victoria could lead on the circular economy around plastics but only by closing the loop and maximising the quality of reclaimed resource – container deposits schemes continue to prove their effectiveness in achieving this objective,” he said.

“As Victoria drowns in a sea of contaminated kerbside recycling, the time to act is now. Can the Andrews’ Government continue to ignore the evidence and oversee not only the destruction of Victoria’s recycling industry, but also the ongoing damage to its iconic environment?”

Port Fairy Sea Scouts Group leader Michelle Arnold welcomes the campaign and its three-metre large bottle to Port Fairy in a bid to get others to support the initiative.

“We see how well this scheme works for the scouts in South Australia. We have the setup to receive containers, we have eager scouts to go collecting and if you look at our scout hall, we certainly could put the funding to good use,” she said.

Boomerang Alliance launches Communities Taking Control

A new initiative aiming to end Australia’s reliance on single-use plastics has been announced by the Boomerang Alliance at the Beyond Plastic Pollution Conference in Darling Harbour.

Communities Taking Control aims to empower communities to bring about systematic change and end the reliance on single-use plastics. It will provide passionate groups and individuals with a comprehensive guide, including all the information about tools and platforms, to implement a plastic free community initiative. The guide is based on the collaborative efforts of allies and pilot programmes in Noosa and Wollongong.

Related stories:

“The impacts of significant pollution from plastic in the environment have begun to seriously alarm scientists, health professionals and communities,” said Jeff Angel, Director of the Boomerang Alliance of 47 groups.

“Our oceans, local waterways, marine and wildlife are being crippled by the sheer volumes of plastic, and with plastic now being found in our food and drinking water, it is clear the human food chain is already contaminated.

“All sectors of our society need to take action, and we’ve been pleased to see government, industry, NGO’s and community members coming together to discuss and collaborate on the solutions to the plastic pollution crisis at the conference. This is the way forward.”

Mr Angel noted that programs are already being developed with local businesses, festivals, schools and other stakeholders to reduce the output of single-use plastic at the source.

“The wide spread adoption of reusable consumer goods, and the transition of businesses towards re-usables and non-plastic alternatives will have a huge positive impact on our environment,” he said.

Communities Taking Control is specifically targeting

  • plastic bottles
  • plastic bags
  • polystyrene and plastic takeaway food containers
  • straws
  • cutlery
  • coffee cups