Plastic Free July

Tina Wu

Australian households use around 100kg plastic packaging per year. Scientists predict that by 2050, the amount of plastic waste in tonnes found in our oceans will surpass that of fish.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian is facing pressure from the NSW Greens to prohibit the circulation of single-use plastic bags this July, following the Plastic Free July campaign.

The campaign originated from the Western Metropolitan Regional Council in 2011, which has gained traction worldwide with over one million participants across the globe.

Plastic Free July encourages citizens to refrain from using plastic in their everyday lives for a month and instead search for sustainable alternatives, such as using reusable bags for grocery shopping, not purchasing pre-packaged fruit and vegetables and bring your own keep cups when buying coffee.

It is well known that plastic takes a long time to break down, with plastic bags taking approximately 20 years to do so. Most plastics are derived from petroleum, and these petrochemical plastics never completely finish degrading. Plastics are also either “downcycled”, meaning that they are converted to low-grade products only once, or buried in a landfill.

The main concern regarding plastics in our oceans, however, revolve around their impact on marine animals. Research suggests that between 5000 and 15 000 sea turtles become ensnared in fishing gear in northern Australia.

Despite the mounting scientific evidence on the detrimental effects of plastics, the Greens believe that NSW government has still not taken the necessary steps to address this issue.

“The NSW Government is lagging behind other states and territories in taking action on plastic pollution and banning single-use plastic bags,” said Justin Field, spokesperson from Greens Marine.

NSW citizens are seen to be readily supporting the ban of plastic bags, providing further evidence to push Berejiklian into embracing this campaign for the whole state.

“The community is already taking action but more needs to be done by our politicians. A recent Boomerang Alliance poll showed 63 per cent of NSW residents support a plastic bag ban,” said Field.