Single Use Plastics

Produce BagSingle use plastics are one of the most common types of marine debris. Disposable plastic items such as shopping bags, water bottles (and their lids!), straws, cutlery and cups, too often find their way into our waterways where they will never biodegrade, and cause serious problems for our marine life.

Fortunately, the single-use plastic issue is an easy one to fix! By switching single-use, disposable items for multi-use, durable ones, we can drastically reduce the amount of plastic waste being generated in our communities. And there are many different ways to go about making this happen.

Check out the ideas below on how people just like you can engage with the relevant people and businesses in your community, to reduce the amount of single-use, disposable plastic items that are currently available where you live. And remember, sometimes it is as simple as remembering to grab your stainless steel water bottle, bamboo cutlery, or reusable shopping bag with you when you leave the house.

2018 Eurobodalla Calendar

2018 ESC CalendarAs part of the Eurobodalla Shire Council's annual primary education for schools we run with a theme which normally links to impacts on our marine environment.

Over the last 20 years this has included the creation of a calendar which showcases artwork which aligns with the annual theme that have been done by local school students.

The theme for the 2018 calendar was "Land and Sea Matter to Me".



Waste Free Events for Kingston!

marathonThe participants of the Kingston City Council Source Reduction Plan set single use polystyrene and plastic cups in its sight, particularly those arising from sporting events. The first step involved finding out when events are taking place and to put a list together from the local region. The working group decided to target outdoor sporting events and then went on to find out who oversaw events approval/ permitting. Members from the SRP promoted the use of paper cups instead of plastic or polystyrene at events and discussed that litter was a major issue at such events.

Event organisers took a long time to respond to the working groups recommendations of infrastructure solutions and replacing plastic cups for compostable ones. Only once visual evidence was presented did officials did agree to replace plastic cups with compostable cups and mentioned they would allocate a larger number of staff and volunteers to clean up efforts in future.

The SRP working group is now lobbying event organisers for another sporting event to adopt a more sustainable approach as well. Kingston City Council responded to the Source Reduction Plan process by changing their “event vendor guidelines” to ensure vendors are using the Kingston Waste Wise program. The project is ongoing.

The Last Straw in City of Port Phillip!

LIF CoPP imagePlastic straws are a common form of litter in the City of Port Phillip. As a result of the City of Port Philip (CoPP) Source Reduction Plan workshop in 2017, there was a clear community concern to reduce this form of marine debris. Particpants wanted to use the template from The Last Straw and implement it locally. The project objective was to reduce plastic straw litter by engaging with cafes and bars in the CoPP and replacing their plastic straws with paper ones to reduce the impact of straw pollution. A representative from Beach Patrol (a local community group that targets marine litter) approached 9 cafes to take part in a trial of replacing plastic straws for paper ones (supplied by the project) for 2-3 months, followed by a cost-benefit analysis. Each café agreed to take part.

Each café was given 1000 paper straws, 3 x A5 flyers outlining the initiative and trial, and asked to place the straws out of sight – only offering the paper straws when requested. Extra funding was harnessed from Beach Patrol and Port Philip Council to purchase more paper straws so a further 6 cafes were brought on board. Exposure for participating cafes was done by taking photos of the cafe staff holding a cup of paper straws with the cafe name on one of their boards in the back ground. These pictures were posted on Instagram and Facebook with a #lastplasticstraw hashtag. There was a local newspaper article that highlighted the initiative and created more positive press for those participating establishments.

The project did encounter some challenges along the way, larger cafes went through their supply much faster, and if the project team did not continue to supply paper straws they would default back to plastic as demand warranted. This meant more time spent visiting cafes every 2 weeks and following up than anticipated. Also, café staff are very time poor so would often not hide straws as requested. It is more efficient to simply provide straws with drinks so that staff do not have to revisit tables repeatedly, even though hiding straws drastically reduces costs. Overall, most cafes (3/4) were happy to continue to use paper straws provide a reliable stockist was put forward.

This model is now being rolled out in other Philip Bay council areas.

City of Melbourne Source Reduction Plan

BYO coffee cupFollowing the Source Reduction Plan workshop in May 2017, the City of Melbourne wanted to reduce single use coffee cups being used in the City of Melbourne area. Participants also wanted to gain insight into the reasons people don’t use BYO coffee cups to inform alternative approaches to reducing this form of litter.

In order to engage the most number of people quickly, this project aimed to sign up local cafes to the Responsible Cafes program. This established network provides them free promotion for offering customers a discount for using their own BYO coffee cup. 49 cafes were engaged about the program, and 13 signed up (although 2 were too late to gather data for this project).

After a month of becoming a “Responsible Café” the impact was measured by emailing a survey to ask them to estimate any change in BYO cups since signing up. Based on their estimation of increased customers using BYO coffee cups, a daily increase was calculated and multiplied to obtain estimate for full period each café was with Responsible Cafes over the project. Cafes reported via a follow up survey that they collectively saved 2154 disposable cups from landfill over the 3 months that the project was running.

A newspaper article, use of media kiosks and posters were effective awareness raising components that supported the project goals. A consumer survey was done to understand peoples' reasons for using or not using BYO coffee cups. It found the biggest reason people did not want a BYO coffee cup was because it was too hard to carry. For those that did own a BYO cup, 44% always used it, 25% used it most of the time, 19% used it sometimes, and 12% never used it. People who bought their own cup were much more likely to use it than people who were given one.

To download the survey results click here.

This Source Reduction Plan was funded through Sustainability Victoria's Litter Innovation Fund.

The Last Straw on the GBR Video

More than 32 Cairns and Port Douglas businesses have joined The Last Straw on the Great Barrier Reef! Check out how to get involved!

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