New EPA Victoria CEO appointed

A new Environment Protection Authority Victoria (EPA) Chief Executive Officer has been appointed, replacing Nial Finegan who had been in the role for four years.

Dr Cathy Wilkinson has been selected for the role, having worked with the EPA since 2015 and previously held senior leadership roles in the planning, water and environment portfolios for various state government departments.

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She has been a member of Ministerial Advisory Committees and has provided environmental leadership for international organisations such as the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

EPA Chairperson Cheryl Batagol said Dr Wilkinson’s experience will be invaluable as the EPA continues its transformation process.

“This is an exciting time for the EPA as we consolidate our leadership team and continue working to become Victoria’s modern, agile environmental regulator,” Ms Batagol said.

“We are committed to continuing our successful engagement with our stakeholders and undertaking extensive consultation throughout this period of change and transformation.”

EPA Victoria’s focus is implementing the new powers and tools granted to them by the state government to prevent risks to the environment and human health.

Changes from the Environment Protection Act 2017 and Environment Protection Amendment Bill 2018 will require an overhaul of the EPA’s systems, services and processes by 2020.

Starbucks to eliminate single-use plastic straws by 2020

Coffee company Starbucks has announced it will phase out single-use plastic straws from more than 28,000 company operated and licensed stores by 2020.

The company said it will be making a strawless lid or alternative-material straw options available around the world. Starbuck anticipates the move will eliminate more than one billion plastic straws per year from its stores.

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Starbucks will also begin offering straws made from alternative materials, including paper or compostable plastic, available for customers by request.

Customers in Seattle and Vancouver will be the first to see the strawless lids implemented, with a global rollout to follow. The lids will arrive in Europe in select stores in France, the Netherlands and the UK.

According to reports, Starbucks is the largest food and beverage retailer to make such a global commitment.

President and Chief Executive Officer for Starbucks Kevin Johnson said this is a global milestone to achieve Starbuck’s aspiration of sustainable coffee served in more sustainable ways.

Nicholas Mallos, Director of Ocean Conservancy’s Trash Free Seas program says with 8 million metric tonnes of plastic entering the ocean every year, industries can’t afford to sit on the sidelines.

“We are grateful for Starbucks leadership in this space,” Mr Mallos says.

Director of Sustainability Research and Development and Material Science at World Wildlife Fund (WWF) US Erin Simon said Starbucks’ goal to eliminate plastic straws by 2020 represents the company’s forward thinking.

“Plastic straws that end up in our oceans have a devastating effect on species. As we partner with Starbucks in waste reduction initiatives such as Next Gen Consortium Cup Challenge and WWF’s Cascading Materials Vision, we hope others will follow in their footsteps,” Ms Simon says.