REBECCA Prince-Ruiz has made it her mission to reduce the enormous amount of discarded plastic destroying the environment.
The Fremantle resident, whose Plastic Free July campaign expanded to more than 100 countries this year, said the problem with many plastics was that they were designed to last forever and did not break down, making items like water bottles, straws, coffee cup lids and plastic bags dangerous for both land and sea creatures alike.
She said in a worrying statistic, there was expected to be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.
“Every year an estimated 8 million tonnes enters the world’s oceans and it doesn’t break down, it breaks up into smaller and smaller pieces,” she said.
“Plastic has been found in all the world’s oceans and can be ingested by marine organisms as small as plankton to as large as whales.
“In 2011 I first visited a recycling facility where a week’s worth of one suburb’s recycling was being sorted and I was overwhelmed.
“I had always felt like the good green citizen when I recycled but seeing the sheer volume of material and the complex and intense process to transport, sort and then again transport to the point of recycling made me suddenly question everything in my recycling bin and how I came to have it.”
Awarded a Churchill Fellowship last year, Ms Prince-Ruiz used the opportunity to travel to the Netherlands, United States, United Kingdom and Hong Kong to learn more about the impact of plastic waste and how it was managed.
She said there was no denying the plastic pollution problem was an international one.
“Almost every piece that is found in our oceans was once in someone’s hands and those same hands hold the solutions,” she said.
“It was so inspiring to meet so many passionate and dedicated people working on the plastics pollution problem in so many different ways.
“I got to partake in a youth plastic pollution solutions summit, go inside a composting facility, look inside stormwater drainage litter traps, watch scientists sort ocean plastics, hear stories and learn about different approaches.
“I learnt that this is a problem that has solutions, but it will take all of us working together to change the system to reduce the problem at the source.”
Visit www.plasticfreejuly.org for information on tips to reduce plastic use.
WA Rubbish Report 2015
In 1245tonnes of rubbish collected;
-30% were plastics
-24% were metals
-19% was paper
-11% was glass
-The remainder was made up of wood, rubber, polystyrene and miscellaneous material
Source: Clean Up Australia