OUR PRIORITY PLASTIC ITEMS
For food retailers, we focus on six single-use plastic items which represent the most problematic and prolific sources of the litter stream. These are water bottles, coffee cups/lids, straws, plastic bags, food ware (cups, plates, cutlery) and takeaway containers. You can learn about the problems below.
These use of these items can be addressed through changed practices and the use of readily available alternatives. As a general rule, the best option is always to use reusable items. If single use items are used, the preference is for plant-based certified home compostable products. If you are a food retailer, learn how you can reduce these items HERE.
1 water bottles
Plastic bottles form a large component of the litter stream. In the marine environment, they have the potential to survive forever. Once there, they begin to fragment into bite size microplastics, killing marine life that mistake them for food.
Queensland introduced a container refund scheme in 2018 to help reduce container litter.
2 coffee cups/ lids
Over 1 billion disposable coffee cups are used in Australia every year. The plastic lining in the cup means the majority of cups are not recycled, instead ending up in landfill. If mismanaged they have the potential to end up in our oceans. Coffee cup lids are usually made of polystyrene, a particularly toxic and problematic source of marine plastic pollution. Lids often escape bins and landfill, ending up in the ocean.
Straws are an often frivolous plastic item that causes significant ingestion hazards for our wildlife. Plastic straws are used for an average of 20 minutes, however, they can last in the environment for years and they are one of the top 10 items picked up in beach clean ups. Plastic straws cannot be recycled and eventually fragment in our oceans, making it far more easy for wildlife to ingest plastic.
4 plastic bags
Plastic bags are quite often the cause of wildlife entanglement and ingestion. They are shown to be immediately targeted by species that mistake them for their food sources (e.g. jellyfish) and can cause intestinal blockages, starvation and asphyxiation.
Degradable and biodegradable bags are NOT an good alternative. Degradable bags break into small pieces quickly and are readily ingested by wildlife. Biodegradable bags take up to 2 years to biodegrade in the environment, and by that time they have often done the damage.
Queensland introduced a ban on single use lightweight plastic bags in July 2018, including degradable and biodegradable plastic bags.
5 foodware (cultery, cups etc.)
Most single use plastic foodware ends up in landfill. If they are littered or escape from landfill, they can enter our waterways where they can fragment and cause serious harm to marine wildlife.
Because these items are usually used away from home and in public areas, they tend to be littered frequently. Plastic utensils are one of the most damaging items to marine life (along with plastic bags).
Takeaway containers are littered frequently because they are usually used away from home. When they enter the marine environment they fragment into smaller plastic pieces and can harm wildlife, who readily consume them.
6 takeaway containers
Takeaway containers are often made of polystyrene, which is extremely toxic, and pose many health concerns for not only our wildlife, but us as well. We recommend that polystyrene is NEVER used for food packaging.