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Senate Reports Plastics Pollution in Our Oceans Alarming

Rosalie Woodruff MP

Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Tags: Environment, Pollution, Container Deposit Scheme, Plastic

That the House:—

(1)           Notes:—

(a)           that the Senate Environment and Communications Committee has released a landmark report into the causes and impacts of marine plastic pollution in our waterways and oceans;

(b)           with deep concern that over 9 million tonnes of plastic will enter the world’s oceans in 2016, with the rate we are polluting the ocean doubling approximately every 11 years;

(c)           that Australians consume 2.93 million tonnes of plastic each year, and that less than 9 per cent of this is recycled; and

(d)           that 124 billion pieces of plastic litter our coasts every year including 180 million plastic bags, 420 million plastic bottles, 220 million other pieces of plastic packaging, and trillions of micro-plastic beads and fibres.

(2)           Recognises that plastic does not decompose, it just gets smaller, with a single plastic bottle able to break down into more than 10,000 pieces of micro-plastic.

(3)           Acknowledges that micro-plastics act as a toxic sponge, with evidence they can become a million times more toxic than the water around them.

(4)           Understands that:—

(a)           micro-plastics have serious implications for the 96 % of all biodiversity that are potentially able to ingest plastics, and that the animals most vulnerable to toxicity from plastic contamination are those at the top of the food chain, namely humans; and

(b)           while the impact on seabirds and marine mammals are becoming better understood, the potential impacts on human health from eating seafood that contains micro-plastics are alarmingly unstudied.

(5)           Recognises that Federal and State Government policies to date have largely failed to make a dent in the volume of plastics entering the ocean.

(6)           Calls on the Government to act now and adopt the steps recommended by the Senate Committee to remove plastic pollution before it enters our oceans, including:—

(a)           introducing a container deposit system to eliminate beverage rubbish;

(b)           strengthening the current ban on all single-use plastic bags;

(c)           prohibiting products containing micro-beads from being sold in Tasmania; and

(d)           ensuring that plastic producers and recyclers capture micro-plastics on their premises.