New report reveals pathway for Australia to halve plastic pollution

By Liam Taylor 19 August 2020

Ending the use of single-use plastics such as cigarette filters, microbeads and most types of disposable plastic containers would enable Australia to cut its plastic pollution in half, according to a new analysis of clean-up activities.

The report was commissioned by WWF-Autralia and prepared by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and provides a comprehensive set of recommendations to address the six most problematic single-use plastic types. Using data from clean-up activities, these were found to be:

  1. Plastic bottles

  2. Soft ‘scrunchable’ plastics

  3. Disposable foodware

  4. Disposable packaging and containers

  5. Cigarettes

  6. Microplastics

“We estimate these six types of plastic account for 70% of our single-use plastics consumption in Australia and make up 75,000 tonnes of the 130,000 tonnes of plastic flowing into our environment each year,” said Wendy Mackay, Managing Director and Partner at BCG, in a statement.

“This equates to around 600 million plastic bottles, 7.14 billion pieces of soft plastics and a staggering 8 billion cigarette butts leaking to the environment each year, making cigarettes the most littered item in Australia.”

In order to address these problematic plastics, the report proposes three actions all levels of government can take to reduce consumption and prevent them from polluting the natural environment.

  1. Develop a roadmap to phase out cigarette filters, microbeads and most types of disposable plastic foodware, packaging and containers.

  2. Enact regulation to manage single-use plastics that can't be phased-out through product standards (e.g. designing for recyclability) and measures to improve collection (e.g. container deposit schemes).

  3. Incentivise development and adoption of sustainable alternatives and systems to assist the transition away from single-use plastics.

The report also highlighted examples of businesses and governments leading the way through innovative approaches to the issue of plastic pollution, such as the Loop reusable packaging system and bans on single-use plastics.

Liam Taylor
Prior to joining Planet Ark Liam spent his time studying global environmental issues, travelling Southeast Asia on the cheap and working for a sustainable property management company in Bali, Indonesia. Joining the communications team at Planet Ark, he hopes to inspire positive environmental behaviour through effective and positive messaging.