The ban on single-use plastic items with threats of fines is best replaced with an education program and finding biodegradable alternatives to plastic, say the Liberal Democrats.
Proposed laws in New South Wales that impose fines on small businesses and residents using plastic bags, cutlery and other single-use items is detrimental.
Liberal Democrats NSW President, Dean McCrae, says there are far more effective long-term solutions than an immediate ban and penalties for non-compliance.
“The LibDems applaud the NSW Environment Protection Authority for their approach to first educate and raise awareness among the public to stop using non-biodegradable plastics,” Dean says.
“An education campaign that encourages consumers to swap to reusable shopping bags and refuse plastic containers is positive, and the change to shoppers’ behaviour should be accelerated.
“Ultimately, there must be less plastic waste going to landfill, and this will start to happen when biodegradable plastics, papers and bamboo products are more widely adopted,” Dean says.
The Liberal Democrats propose a two-year transition period as part of the education campaign for the plastics ban.
This would encourage consumers to use less plastic, and allow manufacturers and distributors time to put alternative biodegradable packaging into the marketplace.
The problem remains of processing vast amounts of waste plastics that mostly go into landfill, but this is being tackled by development of biomaterials that reduce consumers’ carbon footprint.
Innovative Sydney recycling company, Licella, is commercialising a process to convert plastic wastes back into oils, biofuels and biomaterials, and so reduce dependence on crude oil.
“The LibDems encourage a market environment that provides incentives for these innovative businesses to turn plastic waste into new fuels and products,” Dean says.
“Government has a role to play, and needs to reduce regulations and increase financial advantages that allow companies like Licella to thrive and be world leaders.”
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