Special Envoy for the Great Barrier Reef Warren Entsch today launched a discussion paper, a first for his new role. Titled: Convenience vs Conservation, the paper takes aim at the prominence of single use plastics in Australia.
Launched today as part of National Recycling Week, the paper highlights the importance of improving waste management practices locally and how Australians are tempted with increasingly convenient consumer practices that are fundamentally at odds with principles of environmental sustainability.
It follows on from the Morrison Government’s commitment to ban the export of plastic, tyres, paper and glass, agreed to by COAG and announced earlier in August this year.
The discussion paper is calling for submissions from stakeholders, industry and other interested individuals to help provide insight into the unique waste challenges faced by both the Far North region and Australia more broadly.
Mr Entsch said, there has already been a significant interest in the reduction of single use plastics from members of the public and as a result some industry-led improvements and infrastructure development was already underway.
“I’ve been talking to a range of people and companies operating in this space, and there is a tremendous amount of optimism about the path forward,” Mr Entsch said.
“One of the issues I’ve noticed is that we have many people and organisations operating in silos at present, but the problems they’re trying to solve are massive and it seems to me that a more coordinated response is required,
“We’re only recycling about 12 per cent of plastics nationally at the moment, we need to start heading towards a more circular economy, the benefit to the environment will be significant; not to mention the potential economic opportunities along the way,
“In the context of the reef, we’ve got wildlife such as turtles, dugongs and seabirds that suffer injury or death through entanglement and ingestion of marine debris – a lot of which is plastic,
“While we’ve have got to continue with clean up efforts, we have to make the necessary changes to stop the plastic getting into the environment in the first place – part of that is recognising the value in our waste.”
Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management, Trevor Evans joined Mr Entsch in Cairns for the launch of the discussion paper.
“Warren has always been a tireless advocate for North Queensland and the Great Barrier Reef. It’s fantastic to see him continuing that tradition in his role as Special Envoy by engaging with his local community, leading the policy conversation, and bringing the voices of FNQ to Canberra,” said Mr Evans.
“National Recycling Week is an important reminder of the small, practical things we can all do to help the environment.
It’s been great to be here in Cairns today, visiting recycling facilities and community leaders, to listen and share information about the Government’s recycling agenda.”
The discussion paper can be viewed on Warren Entsch’s Website.
Submissions are welcome and they will help to inform reports to the Federal Government the Special Envoy has been tasked with undertaking.
Submissions close on the 21st of February 2020.