The Plastic Reduction Bill 2020 passed the ACT Legislative Assembly last week, delivering a framework for progressively phasing out single-use plastics over time.
Coca-Cola Amatil has announced it will no longer distribute plastic drinking straws or stirrers in Australia and instead stock fully recyclable and biodegradable FSC-accredited (Forest Stewardship Council) paper straws.
Group managing director Alison Watkins said the decision was another step forward in the company’s efforts to reduce single-use plastics.
“We’re serious about playing our part in reducing unnecessary plastic packaging,” Ms Watkins said.
“We’ve heard the community message loud and clear that unnecessary packaging is unacceptable and we all need to work together to reduce the amount entering litter streams, the environment and the oceans.
“The new paper drinking straws will be sourced from suppliers BioPak and Austraw and made available through Amatil’s ordering platform to around 115,000 outlets nationwide including grocery, petrol and convenience stores, bars, cafes and quick service restaurants.”
Distribution of the old single-use plastic drinking straws and stirrers will cease as stocks run out over the next two months.
The new sustainable paper straws will be available from February.
Ms Watkins said the intention was for 100 per cent of Coca Cola Amatil’s Australian packaging to be fully recyclable by 2025, including all bottles, cans, plastic wrap, straws, glass and cardboard.
“We are working towards phasing out unnecessary and problematic single-use plastics entirely, through improved design, innovation or the use of recycled alternatives,” Ms Watkins said.
Last year, Coca-Cola Amatil announced that by 2020 it would develop the business case for a weighted average of 50 per cent recycled plastic in PET containers across the Australian portfolio, including carbonated soft drinks.
The Coca-Cola Company is also developing sustainable packaging goals to increase the recycled content in plastic bottles, and supports recycling programs in Australia.
The South Australian Government is considering banning single-use plastic products which include straws, takeaway coffee cups and cutlery.
Along with a review into the more than 40-year-old Container Deposit Scheme, the government is seeking consultation on the ban of a number of single-use plastics with the release of a new discussion paper.
The Turning the tide on single-use plastic products discussion paper seeks feedback on whether the government should introduce measures to tackle a range of single-use items.
The paper asks whether government intervention if required for these items and in what form it could take.
Among considerations in the paper are also whether the existing ban on single-use plastic bags should extend to thicker shopping bags, raising the question as to whether they should be made of compostable material. It asks what the impact would be of manufactures or importers.
According to the paper, plastic product has surged over the past 50 years, from 15 million tonnes in 1964 to 311 million tonne in 2014. It is expected to double again over the next 20 years.
The report also cites action on plastic in states such as France, Italy, which has banned plastic cotton buds. France has also banned plastic cups and plates and the UK intends to ban straws, with Brussels and Ireland and Portugal considering similar measures.
According to the paper, estimates suggest that South Australians could be using about 255,500,000 million straws per year.
Items excluded for the time being from the ban are microplastics/microbeads, non-plastic single-use disposable items, single-use plastic beverage containers and sanitary applications such as wet wipes.
Further work will be undertaken to evaluate the impact of a proposed ban on manufacturers or importers of single-use products. The paper cites an opportunity for these producers to redirect production to reusable and recyclable items.
“With a shift to reusable items, a single upfront purchase by the retailer will avoid future regular costs of purchasing the single use items, and thus may lead to a saving,” the paper says.
“There will be a cost to providing reusable items for consumption on site, but savings from not providing single-use items. The balance of the costs and savings will vary for different retailers and determine whether a switch away from single-use plastics can ‘pay for itself’ over time.”
Environment Minister David Speirs said South Australia is a national leader in recycling and resource recovery and it is important to have a discussion about single-use plastics and the Container Deposit Scheme.
“Increasing interest and action globally is calling for a halt to the impact of single-use plastics on the environment. In October 2018, the European Union announced its intention to ban a range of single-use plastic items.
“We can take more immediate local action on items that are designed and intended for disposal after only a single use, are prone to being littered, are unlikely to be recycled and for which more sustainable alternatives are available,” he said.
Consultation runs until 22 February 2019. Further information is available here.
The European Union has taken steps to ban a number of single-use plastics from its member states. Waste Management Review looks at the implications of this and whether similar measures would be palatable in Australia.
Two of the world’s largest food and beverage retailers will identify and commercialise a recyclable and compostable cup which can be used globally.
The NextGen Cup Challenge aims to offer promising solutions on the recovery of single-use cups, with a focus on the fiber-based hot and cold cup, and working to create a fully recyclable and/or compostable cup in North America.
McDonalds has joined Starbucks, the founding member of the group, to form part of The NextGen Cup Consortium and Challenge. It follows recent commitments by McDonalds and Starbucks to turn to more sustainable packaging solutions.
The $5 million investment by McDonalds brings the total project fund to $10 million, which kicks off in September and invites innovators, entrepreneurs, industry experts, and recyclers to submit their ideas for the next generation of recyclable and/or compostable cups.
Awardees will receive acceleration funding up to $1 million based on key milestones. Up to seven of the awardees will enter a six-month accelerator program to help scale their solutions.
“McDonald’s is committed to using our scale for good to make positive changes that impact our planet and the communities we serve,” said Marion Gross, Senior Vice President and Chief Supply Chain Officer, McDonald’s USA.
“We are excited to join Starbucks and Closed Loop to help solve this pressing challenge as collaboration is key to finding a scalable, lasting global solution.”
Colleen Chapman, vice president of Global Social Impact focused on sustainability for Starbucks, said that a better cup will benefit the entire industry and the company invite others to join them as we move their efforts forward.
NextGen builds on years of work in the industry and is a critical step in the development of a global end-to-end solution that will potentially allow the 600 billion cups globally to be diverted from landfills and given a second life.
The consortium is building a robust advisory council including leaders in environmental NGOs including WWF, human-centered design, academic leaders, the paper and plastic industry, recyclers, composters, and municipalities to ensure that the work is grounded in the needs of the entire value chain and the cups make it from shelf to consumer and back through the recovery system to another high value use.
“There has never been a greater need to tackle the ways in which we source and recover materials. McDonald’s participation is a strong step forward in building momentum from major brands to come together and develop innovative approaches to materials waste,” said Erin Simon, Director of Sustainability Research and Development (R&D) and Material Science at World Wildlife Fund, U.S.
“Working together across the entire value chain of these major companies will allow us to create a comprehensive and lasting solution to this critical conservation challenge.”
“To date we have received more than 1000 inquiries from companies and individuals interested in participating in the challenge and we anticipate some exciting and impactful proposals,” said Kate Daly, Executive Director of the Center for the Circular Economy at Closed Loop Partners.