Urgent action needed to protect Australia's waterways

Friday, 31 May, 2024

Urgent action needed to protect Australia's waterways

The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Climate Change, Energy, Environment and Water has tabled its final report on plastic pollution in Australia’s oceans and waterways.

Titled ‘Drowning in waste’, the report makes 22 recommendations aimed at strengthening Australia’s plastics management framework to minimise plastic waste to landfill, incentivise the use of recycled materials in the production of new plastics and strengthen management of the plastics that are already in the environment.

“Without urgent action, plastic waste will increase and continue to negatively impact our oceans and waterways. Australia needs to act now to protect its natural environment for future generations,” said Chair of the Committee Tony Zappia MP.

The report emphasises the need for an updated National Plastics Plan in consultation with state and territory governments, industry and the community. Zappia advised that “the Plan should be nationally coordinated and increase industry accountability to reduce the amount of plastics ending up in landfill”.

Zappia made the point that though many Australians wanted to recycle correctly, inconsistencies among states and territories have led consumers to believe that certain items are recyclable or compostable when they are not. “The Committee recommends nationally harmonising the single-use plastic bans, waste collection standards and the Container Deposit Scheme,” he said.

“Packaging and recycling labelling need to be standardised and simplified to reduce confusion and help consumers recycle the right containers.

“We also need to better understand the potential risks and effects of microplastic pollution on human health. The Committee has recommended investment in research and the development of a microplastic reduction strategy to limit microplastic pollution in our marine environments,” Zappia added.

To access the full report, including the Committee’s complete list of recommendations, visit the inquiry website.

Image credit: iStock.com/gopixa

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