WMRR calls for single-use plastics pact

single-use plastics national plan

The Queensland government has announced that it will ban plastic microbeads, polystyrene packing peanuts and plastic-stemmed cotton buds by 1 September 2023, unveiling its proposed five-year roadmap to phase out harmful, single-use plastics.

The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) welcomed the announcement, congratulating the Queensland government for taking a forward-thinking approach to managing these materials as well as being the first to recognise the need to use recycled content in replacement items.

Acknowledging that all jurisdictions across Australia have their eyes firmly set on phasing out single-use plastics, the association is calling for a nationally harmonised approach to ensure that both business and community can achieve less waste.

Gayle Sloan, WMRR Chief Executive Officer, said it is pleasing to see the work that states are doing to stem the scourge of unnecessary single-use items. She also congratulated the government and the National Retailers Association for the work in the roadmap to replace single-use items with reuse items that include recycled content.

“It is important that as states and territories continue in their efforts to phase out single-use plastics, governments also work towards developing nationally consistent strategies to mitigate any risk of confusion to communities and businesses,” Sloan said.

“We also need them to include real targets for replacement items that include recycled content so we can grow and invest with certainty in infrastructure and systems that support the ban.  If we get this right, it’ll mean more jobs for Australians.

“Australia needs to develop its own robust plastics pact, like the European Union, that brings together all jurisdictions and businesses across the entire plastics value chain to drive greater cross border co-operation, market demand, and harmonisation.”

Sloan said the current disparate strategies that call for bespoke bans are challenging for businesses and the community to understand and meet, as well as challenging for industry to invest and innovate as no two states are the same.

“We have already learnt the hard way with the container deposit scheme that we need to do this together, rather than retrospectively try to harmonise,” she said.

“National harmonisation is important in our efforts to adopt these bans and manage unnecessary waste, we have to be really careful we do not simply replace one waste with another. Australia needs a national plastics pact that commits governments and businesses across the entire supply chain to not only phase out problematic plastics, but also ensure a consistent set of bans as well as purchase recycled plastics.

“As part of this pact, we also need robust design targets for the use of recycled content and recyclability, including reporting on these and the penalties and/or plans should stakeholders miss the mark.”

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