After four weeks Queensland has celebrated 100 million returned containers from its popular Container Refund Scheme.
With less than 50 days until the Queensland plastic bag ban comes into effect, the state government has reminded retailers to be prepared.
Minister for Environment Leeanne Enoch said Queenslanders use almost one billion plastic shopping bags each year.
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“This figure is astonishing. If you laid out all of these bags, end to end, they would reach from Coolangatta to the top of Cape York more than 160 times,” Ms Enoch said.
“And sadly about 16 million plastic bags end up in our environment every year.
“The ban will also help keep our state beautiful for generations to come and reduce the impact of plastic pollution on our treasured environment and wildlife.”
The Queensland Government is aiming to reduce the amount of single-use plastic items in an effort to tackle plastic pollution.
From 1 July, retailers will no longer be able to supply single-use lightweight plastic shopping bags less than 35 microns in thickness to customers, for free or at a charge.
Ms Enoch said it was pleasing to see some retailers already replacing plastic shopping bags in preparation of the ban.
“It’s also an important time for households to starting planning of how they can use reusable shopping bags when visiting the shops.
“Most household are likely to already have alternative bags they can use such as reusable ‘green’ bags or bags they use every day, like a backpack. Make sure you take them with you when you go shopping or to collect a takeaway, and keep them by the front door, in your car or in your bag.
“Regardless of which reusable shopping bags you use, to maximise the environmental benefit it’s very important that you use them over and over again and recycle them at their end-of-life, where possible,” Ms Enoch said.
The plastic bag ban applies to all retailers which supply single-use light weight plastic shopping bags.
Retailers that continue to supply banned bags after 1 July could face a fine of up to $6,300 per offence. A similar fine also applies to any person, such as a supplier, who provides misleading information about banned bags.
A Queensland biofuels plant is researching whether they can convert plastic, tyres and an invasive weed into diesel and energy.
The Southern Oil plant currently has been able to turn softwood plantation waste and macadamia nut shells into a renewable fuel source.
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Environment and Science Minister Leeanne Enoch said the facility had so far used four waste-based products and refined it into fuel, and that another seven waste products would be tested.
“This project is amazing, and is leading the way to a sustainable fuel future for Queensland,” Ms Enoch said.
“Now they are going test another seven waste-based products, and woody material from an invasive plant known as the prickly acacia – also a Weed of National Significance – has been prioritised as the next feedstock to be refined into saleable kerosene and diesel products,” she said.
“Other products the Plant are planning to convert into renewable diesel and energy include plastics, wood waste and tyres.”
Laboratory research has begun to refine the renewable crude into jet fuels and lubricants.
Queensland’s Biofuture Envoy Professor Ian O’Hara complemented Southern Oil on the technical advancements taking place.
“To be able to produce renewable biocrude generated from different waste streams, and then apply pilot scale distillation and hyrdotreatment on site to create a certified fuel is a great accomplishment,” Professor O’Hara said.
Southern Oil’s Managing Director Tim Rose said Queensland’s emerging renewable fuel industry was not just good for the environment but also good for Queensland’s economy – with significant benefits flowing through to regional Queensland.
“While we have invested heavily in a world class laboratory and cutting edge technology to produce a certified fuel, we have also invested heavily in independent economic modelling around the availability, aggregation and logistics of available waste streams in Queensland,” he said.
“We intend to establish regional hubs where the waste is generated, to produce our renewable crude. The crude will then be transported from across Queensland to the Gladstone Renewable Fuel Refinery.
“So new regional industries creating new jobs and new market opportunities. The numbers add up. It’s a viable and scalable business proposition.”