Campaign for a Reduction in the Use of Plastic
On 4 June, 2015, Environmental groups delivered a petition to Parliament House that was signed by 12,472 voters calling on the NSW Government to ban lightweight plastic bags. The petition was accepted by Bruce Notley-Smith MP, Member for Coogee.
The latest campaign update can be found here.
Please see the media release & some photos of the petition presentation:
The 'Plastic Bag Monster' handing the petition over to Bruce Notley-Smith MP, Member for Coogee
Some of the supporters of Plastic Bag Free NSW
History of the Campaign:
The Plastic Waste Reduction Campaign was initiated in 2010 by the Lane Cove Sustainability Action Group, Take 3 - A Clean Beach Initiative, Marrickville Council and some passionate individuals with a view to lobby the NSW Government for (initially) a ban on plastic shopping bags.
Plastic pollution how did it get this bad?
Plastic, once our “friend” in the fifties, has now become nature's enemy. Our oceans now contain alarming amounts of plastic debris which will take hundreds of years to break down. This is disastrous for our marine life. Below the waves, plastic debris is finding its way into the food chain. The UN Environment Program described marine Plastics as the new toxic time bomb. In addition to entangling wildlife or being mistaken for food, floating plastics accumulate and concentrate chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and the pesticide DDT. Dozens of countries have banned plastic bags with positive results. South Australia and the Northern Territory have already banned plastic bags. The ACT's full ban on single use light weight bags started on the 1st of November 2011. As a result of the public support Target, Bunnings and other stores have decided to charge for plastic bags on a national basis. It is timely that the NSW government introduce a ban on single use plastic bags as a first step to reduce the serious effects of plastic pollution.
Plastic Pollution is one of the most serious threats to our oceans. Plastic constitutes approximately 90% of all debris floating on the ocean’s surface, with 46,000 pieces of plastic per square mile. Plastic does not biodegrade, instead it photo-degrades with sunlight, breaking down into smaller and smaller pieces. However it will never really disappear and is trashing our oceans, washing up on beaches, being eaten by all manner of marine life and is an entanglement hazard to many species.
Plastic is swept away by ocean currents, landing in swirling vortexes called ocean gyres. The North Pacific Gyre, off the coast of California, is home to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, the largest ocean garbage site in the world. This floating mass of plastic is twice the size of Texas, with plastic pieces outnumbering sea life 6 to 1. These floating garbage sites are impossible to fully clean up. Plastic is also toxic once it enters the ocean environment. Plastic particles are 'magnets' for different types of pollutants, such as DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) and POPs (Persistent Organic Pollutants). Plastic expels harmful chemicals such as BPA (Bisphenol A) which organisms at the bottom of the food chain, such as plankton and krill, ingest together with the microscopic plastic particles. As larger fish consume the smaller ones, the chemicals work their way up the food chain. Ultimately, humans consume the largest fish, with a potentially devastating effect on human health. For further comprehensive details on the issues relating to plastics please see this report: Plastics in the Marine Environment: The Dark Side of a Modern Gift.
It takes 500-1000 years for plastic to degrade. Even if we stopped using plastics today, they will remain with us for many generations, threatening both human and ocean health. Despite these alarming facts, there are actions we can take to address the problem of plastics.
We felt it was time for NSW to join other countries and other States and ban plastic bags at retail points of sale.
A pamphlet/flyer PDF summerising our campaign is available here
Research paper on the impacts of plastic pollution: Plastics in the Marine Environment: The Dark Side of a Modern Gift
Great Pacific Garbage Patch Story: http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2011/09/12/3314107.htm
Details on the Pacific Garbage Patch: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_Garbage_Patch
Video & pictures on the scale of the problem: http://www.timsilverwood.com/
Video presentation by photographer Chris Jordan highlighting the consequences of plastic in the oceans and its impacts on marine life: YouTube
Video by Australian Seabird Rescue 'Kill Plastics Not Wildlife' explaining the disastrous effects plastic has on wildlife & us: YouTube
An Australian organisation that deals with one of the tragic consequences of plastic rubbish in the marine environment: http://seabirdrescue.org/