Why is plastic a problem?

Have you ever worried about the amount of packaging we Tasmanians throw away every day, after just one quick use? Did you know that the vast majority of it ends up buried in landfill sites around the State? Check out which takeaway wastes go to landfill in Tasmania. We want to change the story.

Obviously we think avoiding waste is the best option because all packaging (plastic, paper, aluminium, glass) comes at an environmental cost (see our waste hierarchy). Personal strategies to move to reusable packaging, such as Keep Cups, plates and bowls are SUPER and HEROIC.

But what about single use takeaway packaging? How do we tackle our disturbing reliance on packaging? Burying it is perhaps better than putting it in our oceans but is certainly not a sustainable solution.

At the moment only a small portion of our packaging items actually get recycled. We’ve all seen skip bins full of cardboard packaging, but less obvious are the fifteen tonnes of plastic packaging that Tasmania buries each year. It may not sound like much but it all adds up.

The Ellen MacArthur Foundation recently commissioned a study into the New Plastics Economy and estimates that globally we are now producing over 80 million tonnes of plastic packaging each year of which only 5% is retained for subsequent use.

They estimate that by 2050, the plastics sector will account for 20% of total oil consumption and 15% of the global annual carbon budget.

We’ve spoken with our local landfill experts and they agree that if it’s going to be buried in landfill, then single use packaging should be made from compostable materials. Even better than this, a number of Councils around Tasmania (including Hobart) are now planning not only green waste collection, but food waste collection too. This means that in a few short years, Tasmanians will be able to put compostable packaging in kerbside bins – bound for commercial composting facilities.

The major suppliers of compostable packaging into Tasmania are BioPak, PAC Trading and Detpak. All meet standards for compostability that are accepted by our commercial composting sites (but not the Australian Standard AS4736). 

So we’re on a mission to encourage takeaway food businesses in Hobart to provide more sustainable takeaway packaging and utensil options and *embolden* their customers to BYO packaging.

We are going to use the Carrotmob approach – and encourage people to come together in a collective way to support and reward positive environmental change in their communities using the ‘carrot’ instead of the stick.

We will prompt our Sustainable Living Tasmania network of thousands of people to support food retailers in Hobart that switch away from plastic takeaway packaging to compostable options.

 

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This project is proudly funded by the City of Hobart 
Dr Edward Hall Environment Grant program. 

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