This will be written into law

Often, it’s hard to comprehend the scale of things around us. It is reported that there is an area in the North Pacific Ocean referred to as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch; which is 1.6 million square kilometres in size; you know it’s big. But how big? If Queensland measures 1.7 million square kilometres, then suddenly we can put it into perspective.

This month there are two vessels towing a 600 metre floater; with a 3 metre skirt; more than 1,000 kilometres into the North Pacific from San Francisco to scoop up plastics for recycling. It’s a noble venture, and the goal is to have the patch 50% cleared in 5-years.

Stopping the problem at the source

One of the “Key findings” of the 2016-17 Australian plastics recycling survey national report was that the nationwide rate was just 11.8 per cent. On the 26th of June this year, the Australian Parliamentary Report on the Waste and Recycling Industry in Australia made eighteen recommendations. Most notable are the following:

Recommendation 4

  • 8.24 The committee recommends that the Australian and state and territory governments agree to a phase out of petroleum-based single-use plastics by 2023. The scope of this commitment would require careful consideration and should be developed through the Meeting of Environment Ministers.

Recommendation 14

  • 8.68 The committee recommends that the Australian Government extend producer responsibility under product stewardship schemes to ensure better environmental and social outcomes through improved design.

2023 – Just 4 short years away

Using legislation, there will be a mighty push to phase out petroleum-based single-use plastics by 2023. Remember, parliamentary committees are made up of members from across the political parties, very much a multi-partisan approach. In addition to the 2023 timeline, we read that there will be added responsibility placed on importers and manufacturers to ensure better environmental and social outcomes through improved design.

Is the cleaning industry ready?

Apathetic, or innovative; where does your supplier or manufacturer fit in?

It’s no longer acceptable to consume single-use plastic products. For example, the practice of the cleaning and services industries is that it’s okay to use disposable plastics in urinal screens. This will increasingly come under the spotlight as awareness of the plastics problem grows.

Re-use means a great deal more than a couple of refills. The true nature of re-use will also be viewed more critically as the social conscience grows. Re-use means that plastic holders and containers are designed in such a way that they can be topped up multiple times with the minimum of fuss, is durable to actually survive several refills, and can be used in various ways other than its intended purpose.

The re-use of plastic must be sustainable. Sustainability in the context is not just confined to the harmful role that plastics play in the health of the environment in which we live, but also the ease of which truly reusable plastic solutions can be implemented in changing the way things are done in the cleaning and services industries.

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