Joondalup and Wanneroo councils agree plastic waste a concern

Joondalup and Wanneroo councils agree plastic waste a concern

LOCAL governments would support a statewide ban on single-use plastic bags as a measure to reduce litter.

The WA Local Government Association’s (WALGA) state council last week passed a resolution supporting a statewide ban on plastic bags and to advocate the State Government to introduce the ban.

President Lynne Craigie said the agreed position resulted from significant consultation across the sector.

“Local government is seeking to reduce litter on the land and in our rivers and ocean, reduce the plastic bag contamination in our composting and alternative waste treatment facilities and to engage the community,” she said.

Cr Craigie said the council also agreed that the ban should be supported by community education, environmental alternatives and an equitable transition period.

City of Joondalup Mayor Troy Pickard said plastic litter was a major issue for coastal local governments, with a CSIRO finding in 2014 that about three quarters of rubbish on the Australian coastline was plastic.

“The City recognises the significant impact that single use plastic bags can have on the environment and fauna in coastal, bushland and wetland areas,” he said.

“The City is investigating the introduction of a law (Plastic Bag Reduction Local Law) to restrict single use plastic bags, which could see only biodegradable bags provided by retailers in the district.”

Mr Pickard said staff were preparing a report for the council following a successful motion presented in March, and the City was also liaising with the WALGA and other councils considering plastic bag bans.

“Research will consider the likelihood of the law being allowed, its potential effectiveness, the ability to enforce it and the need to consult with retailers and the community,” he said.

City of Wanneroo assets director Harminder Singh said Wanneroo did not currently have a policy on plastic bag use.

However, Mr Singh said it responded to WALGA’s request for feedback last October and said a formal position needed further discussion within administration and the council.

“The City is generally supportive of initiatives which are based upon sound research and theory, which have the potential to reduce waste production in general,” he said.

Mr Singh said the City had not conducted an evaluation of the environmental and financial costs of plastic litter, but would participate in a State Government evaluation if it occurred.

“The City of Wanneroo removed 664 tonnes of waste litter in 2015-16 either from the roadside or from litter bins,” he said.

“A considerable portion of this was plastic, however, it is difficult to quantify the amount.”

Grassroots initiatives such as Boomerang Bags are also encouraging people to ditch single use bags for reusable alternatives.

Butler resident Paula Hay co-ordinates the northern suburbs group of volunteers who sew Boomerang Bags.

Mr Pickard said the City’s Think Green Environmental Education Program promoted environmental events, programs and messages and included waste management as well as biodiversity, climate change, energy and water conservation and natural area protection.

“Initiatives that incorporate waste management themes and messages include the Garage Sale Trail and Clean Up Australia Day,” he said.

Joondalup also offers Eco Audit programs to households, businesses and schools, while the City promotes gardening workshops that encourage composting and worm farms.

“Waste management messages relating to the responsible use of plastic bags and ways to reduce plastics and other forms of litter will continue to be included in the City’s Environmental Education Program,” he said.

Mr Singh said Wanneroo considered whether to use plastic when distributing information to residents.

“The City uses envelopes except when distributing the calendar with the December issue of What’s Happening, when a vegetable based bioplastic is used,” he said.

“Wanneroo is encouraging staff and residents to participate in Plastic Free July aiming to raise awareness about single use plastic and alternatives that are more environmentally sustainable.

“To combat littering and to help prevent plastic from entering the environment the City has installed a number of litter bins, placed mainly in parks and at strategic positions frequented by the public.

“These are emptied regularly, with the frequency continually assessed by field staff.

“The City also partners with Mindarie Regional Council on waste education, supporting various sustainability programs including Earth Carers.

“The City also assists voluntary groups such as Keep Australia Beautiful and the Sea Shepherd marine Debris Campaign, by collecting litter bags after ‘clean ups’.”

EARTH Carers will host a talk, ‘Plastic Free July – After July what then?’ and workshop in Currambine on July 29.

Lindsay Miles, of Treading My Own Path, will speak of her journey to a low plastic lifestyle and participants can learn how to make food and personal care items.

The free event will run from 1-4pm at Currambine Community Centre, 64 Delamere Avenue.

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