Australia and a number of other countries, are moving towards banning the majority of the plastic items that contribute substantially to our waste and pollution issues.
At a meeting of the Federal, state and territory environment ministers in April eight problematic and unnecessary plastic product types for industry were listed for phasing out nationally by 2025 (or sooner in some cases) under the National Waste Policy Action Plan.
These include lightweight plastic bags; plastic products misleadingly termed as biodegradable; plastic straws; plastic utensils and stirrers; expanded polystyrene consumer food containers (for example, cups and clam shells); expanded polystyrene consumer goods packaging (loose fill and molded); and microbeads used in personal health care products.
This ban has already been implemented in South Australia (1/3/21), and in the ACT (1/7/21).
The ban in Queensland will commence in September 2021, in West Australia from November 2021 and in Victoria from February 2023.
Our own Benalla Rural City Council has recently decided to ban a range of single-use plastics at council-organised and sponsored events, so we urge all our local sporting and community groups to follow the council's lead.
In the first of our articles related to Plastic Free July, we urged people to look at alternatives to plastic products for many lifestyle habits.
Now is the time to put these alternatives in place, as the imminent legislated bans will ensure businesses and individuals need to comply.
The reason for this ban is simple - plastic waste has contaminated our world to such a degree that there is now evidence of plastic micro-particles within our food chain.
The plastic products that have been washed into our rivers and oceans have accumulated in huge floating "islands", one of which, in the Pacific Ocean towards the coast of South America, is larger than the state of Texas.
Other plastic "dumps", often in third world countries, are disposed of by burning, sending toxic fumes into the atmosphere, contributing substantially to greenhouse gas emissions and the severe health issues of those countries.
As these plastic products are largely an invention of countries in the developed economies of the world, we have a moral responsibility to fix the problem, and this starts with each of us as individuals, modifying our own behaviour.
Benalla Sustainable Future Group is screening the recent documentary Plastic Wars at its next general meeting on Thursday, July 22 at 7.30 pm at the Uniting Church (opposite Coles).
This documentary provides an eye-opening account of how the plastics industry has manipulated legislation in many countries over the past five or six decades, contributing to much of the confusion about the use and recycling of plastic.
There will be an opportunity to discuss the documentary, and we serve a light supper at the conclusion of the meeting.
For those interested in attending, we ask you to rsvp via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to send a letter to the editor of the Benalla Ensign on this, or any subject, click this link