Eliminating single use plastic needs collective action

Consumer action is an important driver for change in retail packaging, the Metropolitan Local Government Waste Management Forum (Forum) heard recently.

About 80 Forum delegates, representing 31 councils in metropolitan Melbourne, attended the meeting to hear national, state and local government perspectives on the elimination of single use plastic.

Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation (APCO) CEO Brooke Donnelly told the group that while there was a great deal happening at a strategic level with manufacturers and retailers, the responsibility for change required a collaborative approach that included government, industry and consumers.

“We forget how powerful consumers can be in driving change, if consumers stopped buying lollies that were individually wrapped and then wrapped again in a plastic bag, and they let manufacturers know about their concerns, things change,” she said.

APCO is a co-regulatory not-for-profit organisation that works with government and industry to reduce the harmful impact of packaging on the environment.

It works with business on packaging design, sustainable packaging and education.           

Brooke said it was important for all levels of government, business and the community to work together towards a common target.

In April 2018, Commonwealth, state and territory environment ministers agreed on national packaging targets including 100 per cent of packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

Brooke encouraged local councils to work with APCO on helping to achieve this target. 

Darebin City Council has already embraced the call by eliminating single-use plastic at events and venues.

This includes eliminating disposable coffee cups and bottled water at council run events and venues, investing in crockery and dishwashers for events and providing a guide for event planners and catering companies.

Environment Officer, Kelly Barnes called on fellow councils to join Darebin in saying no to single use plastic and support the campaigns of organisations like Zoos Victoria and plastic free towns.

Speaking on behalf of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Skye Holcombe Henley said there was widespread community support for banning plastic shopping bags, with more than 8000 submissions to a community consultation in 2017.

The state government expects the ban to be in place by November this year. Skye said DELWP has been working with the National Retail Association and developed useful factsheets and signage in more than 10 languages to help promote the ban.

Information can be accessed here: www.vicbagban.com.au.


Last updated: 20/05/2020