As thousands of wildlife die and QLD becomes known as the most polluted State for plastic waste, will we finally get on board with the rest of Australia to ban plastic bags?
For far too long Queensland has been harbouring a dirty secret, and itâ€™s time we air it out. Shockingly, our beautiful â€˜Sunshine Stateâ€™ is at risk of becoming the â€˜Rubbish Stateâ€™, with research revealing Queenslanders are littering at a rate 40% higher than the national average! Unsurprisingly, plastic bags and bottles are the worst offenders, and are polluting our oceans and killing our precious wildlife at alarming rates.
Every year over 100,000 marine creatures are murdered by plastic pollution â€“ including seabirds, whales and our magnificent Green and Hawksbill turtles. Marine Biologist Dr Kathy Townsend from Moreton Bay Research Station (University of QLD) found that in approximately 40% of the turtles she autopsied, plastic bags were present in the animalâ€™s intestinal tract. Considering the fact that plastic bags take around 1000 years to break down, the cycle continues â€“ as the animalâ€™s body eventually decays and releases the offending plastic back into the ocean. And if you think itâ€™s only the environment thatâ€™s at risk, think againâ€¦
Every piece of plastic in the ocean or on land is currently releasing toxins,
increasing our risk of contamination in animal products â€“ particularly seafood.
While South Australia, the Northern Territory, Tasmania and the ACT have all banned the use of single-use plastic bags, and NSW is working to implement positive solutions for waste, Queensland continues to drag its heels.
According to the Keep Australia Beautiful â€˜National litter indexâ€™, the amount of litter found nationally over the past five years (in each 1000 sq metre area) has dropped by an average of 20% – while Queensland has seen a decrease of just 5.5%. Even worse, weâ€™ve increased our rates of litter by 6.8% in the past year! Itâ€™s shameful to admit, but in order to protect our beautiful State we need to get real about the facts.
Boomerang Alliance and QLD Wildlife aim to see all single-use plastic bags banned by 2017, and are also urging our Government to draft a Waste Avoidance and Resource Productivity Strategy
The Minister for Environment and Heritage Protection, Steven Miles, has stated that an Advisory Group will be established to assist in preparing for public consultation, while the State will also work with NSW to see how container deposit schemes (which have already proven their success in South Australia) can be implemented in QLD.
Of course, it also comes down to us on an individual level. Itâ€™s hard to believe, but illegal dumping is a massive problem in our State, and at present there are at least six illegal dump sites currently being monitored by Boomerang Alliance.
Queenslanders are a proud community who love our State, but if we donâ€™t act soon what will be left for our future?
Ways to Lessen Your Rubbish Footprint:
- Be mindful of what you throw out, and try to increase your recycling footprint.
- Take reusable bags with you to the shops and always keep a spare in your car.
- If you must use a plastic bag, ask for a compostable option.
- Use a trolley and load your shopping into a cardboard box at the end.