The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) welcomes the Plastic Bag Ban and Container Refund Scheme Law passed by Queensland’s Parliament.
The Waste Reduction and Recycling Amendment Bill, which introduced these measures, was passed with bipartisan support.
James Cordwell, AMCS Marine Campaigner said: “This new law sets the gold standard for waste reduction in Australia. With the tide of ocean plastic pollution on the rise, Queensland is showing leadership in tackling this problem.
“Queensland is the most polluted state in Australia, according to the Keep Australia Beautiful Litter Index, with the incidence of litter 41% higher than the national average.
“Our coastlines are being littered with millions of plastic pieces. Eleven items of plastic, on average, are found along every metre of beach from the Sunshine Coast to the Gold Coast.
“Plastic pollution is choking and entangling our turtles, marine mammals and birdlife. It fills up their stomachs, reducing the space for food, which often results in starvation.
“This new law has the potential to reduce Queensland’s plastic litter by half – drastically cutting the plastic that ends up in our oceans, entangling or choking marine wildlife. To realise this potential the Queensland Government must implement world’s best practice regulations and community education in coming years.
“Education is vital. You can have a fantastic system, but if the community isn’t adequately informed on how it works and how they can participate, you’re heading for failure.”
“This is a win-win initiative for Queenslanders, capable of saving marine wildlife and cleaning up our coasts. We look forward to working with the Queensland Government to ensure the new laws are implemented successfully,” said Mr Cordwell.
Key elements of a world’s best practice container refund scheme for Queensland, include:
- Maximum impact on the volume of littered drink containers through the inclusion of all glass, aluminium and metal, plastic and liquid paperboard beverage containers up to three litres in volume by being subject to a refund payment (some very limited exemptions could apply).
- Convenience for consumers through the provision of a network of redemption points at retail centres (utilising reverse vending machines), as well as private, council and community/charity owned collection/redemption depots throughout the state.
- A sustainable business model that is cost effective and cost neutral to government and consumers. Any associated costs are the responsibility of the scheme coordinator to arrange with funding from the suppliers of beverage containers (this applies the polluter pays principle).
- Efficient cash flow and refund return through the adoption of a modern system to transfer data, and ensure timely payments to operators and immediate refunds to Consumers.
- Complementary to kerbside recycling and other services to maximise container re-use and recycling.
- Provides opportunity for social enterprise and community benefit, through participation in collection and funding vital community activities.
- Clear targets and penalties that ensure scheme performance and compliance, with periodic performance review.
- Coordinated through a not-for profit entity to run and manage and ensure accountability of the whole system.
- Accessible for all citizens, communities and regions in the state
- Effective technological and legislative tools to minimise fraud and support best performance