LABOR’s plan to “Create a Cleaner Australia” announced on Sunday, March 31 is a welcome Federal commitment to start tackling the tsunami of plastic pollution, the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) says.
Responding to Labor’s policy announcement, AMCS Marine Campaigner James Cordwell said: “The AMCS strongly welcomes Labor’s commitment today to a national ban on single-use plastic bags and microbeads. The next Australian government needs to show leadership on tackling plastic pollution of our oceans.”
At the coming Federal election, AMCS, Australia’s peak marine conservation group, is calling on all parties to phase out single-use plastics within five years and to commit to a national target to cut marine plastic pollution by 70 per cent.
Cordwell said: “We are calling on all parties to step up, by committing to action that stops this crazy and needless use of plastics for things that we’ll only use once but will hang around forever – like a straw for sipping a drink or a wrapping for fruit.
“We have known for years about this tsunami of plastics entering our waterways and oceans. What we now need is a tsunami of policies to match. If we don’t do anything about it, then by 2050 the plastic in the oceans will outweigh the fish.
“Plastic pollution is a national and international issue – coordination with state governments is essential. The proposal to establish a national waste commissioner will help streamline our nation’s attack plan.”
Cordwell said the creation of a national container deposit scheme, pledged in Labor’s plan, was welcome but needed to be mandatory not voluntary to make sure “laggard states Victoria and Tasmania get in to line with the rest of the nation.”
“We need to go to the source and cut the production of plastic – so our rivers, oceans and beaches can again be clean and healthy. It’s what they need and deserve.”
“Australia has a huge vested interest in getting this right. We love our beaches and oceans and we have a marine tourism industry that’s worth $31 billion a year.”
Cordwell said scientists had found plastics everywhere they had gone looking for them.
He said: “Plastic pieces have been found two kilometres deep in our precious Great Australian Bight, they’re found in the guts of birds, fish and seafood, in our tap water and bottled water, and bigger pieces are strewn on beaches and mangroves in areas we’d like to think of as remote and pristine.
“Our oceans are already under pressure from global warming, overfishing and pollution.
“As stewards of an incredible marine natural heritage, Australia can and should be a world leader in stopping plastic pollution. We welcome the $15 million announcement to assist our Pacific neighbours to do the same.”
In the coming election, Cordwell said AMCS is asking all parties to commit to an Australia-wide ban on single-use plastics by 2023 and a national target to cut the amount of plastics entering our waterways and oceans by 70 per cent.