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.

group of common single use plastics

(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.

colourful pencils with a speech bubble graphic saying 'your opinion matters'

The WA Government is asking for your views on single-use plastic. Use your voice to help set the agenda.

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!

reusable bottle, cup, cutlery, bag and straw

Carrying lightweight reusable items with you can help to eliminate hundreds of single use plastics each year.

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:

  • reusable coffee cups
  • drink bottles
  • a carry bag
  • reusable barrier bags for fruit and veg
  • stainless steel straws
  • cutlery
  • beeswax wraps

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.

close up of hands holding plastic wrapped tomatoes and no-wrapped ones

‘Naked’ is the new black. Leave over-packaged items on the shelf.

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.

close up of hands with scrunched up plastics


Wondering what goes where? Here are 13 common problem items and where they should go.

Rubbish bin

Takeaway coffee cups


Drink container (silver-lined cartons)

Food packaging (hard plastic, dirty)

Cigarette butts

Wipes (baby, cleaning, facial; including those marked as 'flushable')

Disposable nappies


Fishing line

Recycling bin

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

5.  Quit

Start small – choose one single-use plastic item to wage a personal war against – or be ambitious and target them all.

If you need a helping hand to get started (and stay motivated) why not try our 21-day Waste Detox or think about joining the 2+ million people worldwide who do Plastic Free July?

customer recieving a drink in a reusable container

Establishing new routines can help to reduce single-use plastics – and it’s easier than you probably think

Do you have some ideas about how to break up with single use plastics? Share them on social media using #ownyourimpactwa, tag us or send us an email.

Keep reading

Up for a challenge?