Waging war on single-use plastics
From food packaging and cigarette butts through to disposable items like balloons, straws, plastic cutlery and wipes, single-use plastics are ever-present in everyday life. They are also a major cause of litter and frequently contaminate our recycling.
(Not so) Fun Facts
- 75% of the rubbish collected on Western Australian beaches in 2017 was plastic.
- The five most common types of plastic found were: fragments, cigarette butts and filters, plastic bags and wrap, food packaging and fishing line.
Here are five ways you can tackle single-use plastic today.
1. Make sure your voice is heard
After the introduction of the ban on lightweight plastic bags in Western Australia it’s estimated that, in just the first six months, it prevented approximately 225 million bags from ending up in landfill and the ocean.
Now the WA Government is asking the public what types of single-use plastic they’d like to see tackled next through a possible mix of regulation, education and changes to government purchasing practices.
This is an opportunity for you to help shape how WA will tackle the issue of waste from the top down.
You can specify which 10 single-use plastics you’re most concerned about as well as the approaches you’d most like to see the Government take to help reduce them in the future.
If you haven’t already done so, complete the “Reducing Single-Use Plastic Survey” (it closes Friday 12 July) – it should only take about five minutes. You also have the opportunity to participate in one of 10 community workshops around the state, you can register your interest via the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation.
2. Carry a 'reusables kit'
They say change starts at home, but when it comes to tackling single-use products we think it’s changing what you do when you are out-and-about (and most in need of convenience) that holds the key!
Breaking up with single-use plastic is much easier if you have the right tools in your toolkit! Some of favourite impact-owning items include:
3. Choose 'naked' whenever possible
Sick of seeing over-packaged products everywhere? Vote with your wallet and leave them on the shelf. This includes everything from your fruit, veg, bread and grocery staples through to takeaway meals and less common purchases like toys and electrical items.
Bring extra bags and containers when you head to the supermarket, and buy from farmers’ markets, bulk food stores and second-hand shops instead. In the same way you may consider price when comparing items, start comparing the plastic waste and use this to inform your decision-making.
These sorts of small changes add up, item by item, shop by shop.
4. Put it in the (right) bin
One of the biggest problems with single-use plastics is that they are often disposed of incorrectly.
Regardless of whether you make the rubbish yourself or find it when you are out-and-about, putting it in a bin is a step in the right direction. While landfill is never our preferred option, it’s certainly better than litter being ingested by wildlife and marine life and waste blockages caused by flushing items down the toilet (fatberg anyone?).
If it’s recyclable, and if you can, put it in a recycling bin.
Wondering what goes where? Here are 13 common problem items and where they should go.
Takeaway coffee cups
Drink container (silver-lined cartons)
Food packaging (hard plastic, dirty)
Wipes (baby, cleaning, facial; including those marked as 'flushable')
Takeaway coffee lids
Drink containers (glass, aluminium, plastic bottles, wax-lined cartons)
Drink container lids (metal)
Food packaging (hard plastic, clean)
SPECIAL Collection pointS
Drink container lids (plastic)
Food packaging (soft plastic or foil)
Start small – choose one single-use plastic item to wage a personal war against – or be ambitious and target them all.