Plastic waste exports banned but pollution remains a major problem

Australia’s peak marine conservation body has welcomed the passing of new Federal laws that will end the practice of shipping Australia’s waste overseas.

The Recycling and Waste Reduction Act 2020 will give effect to a ban on exports of waste plastic, paper, glass and tyres agreed by Commonwealth, State and Territory governments in March.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) praised the Federal Government for putting an end to the practice of shifting our plastic burden to other countries but said the laws would not solve the plastic pollution problem in Australia.

“The laws themselves will not reduce the plastic flowing into our oceans and harming marine wildlife like turtles, seabirds and seals,” said AMCS plastics spokesperson Shane Cucow.

“To really deal with the plastic pollution crisis in Australia we must make targets to cut plastic packaging mandatory. For years we have had voluntary targets for cutting plastic packaging and they haven’t worked. 

“We need a nationwide framework for eliminating the most lethal plastics for ocean wildlife, like plastic bags, straws and cutlery.

“Every day we wait, more ocean animals are killed by the plastic in our oceans.”

Mr Cucow said it was disappointing that amendments moved by Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson to ban single-use plastics and make plastic packaging targets mandatory had been defeated in parliament.

The legislation follows on from action on single-use plastics in some of Australia’s States and Territories. South Australia’s ban on single use plastics is due to begin early next year.

The ACT and Queensland governments have both tabled legislation banning single use plastics that are thought will pass in February. Western Australia has announced plans to introduce a ban by 2023.

However single-use plastics bans are yet to be introduced into parliaments in Victoria, New South Wales, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

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