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Report calls for action on litter

Posted: 5am 08 Sep 2021

The 100-day campaign to reduce litter in Clontarf may be over, but the battle to solve the problem on a broader scale continues, with a report handed to elected representative calling for action.

Pristine Peninsula founder and co-ordinator Les Barkla and waste warriors Sue and Phil Johnson presented the report to State Member for Redcliffe Yvette D’Ath and Councillors Karl Winchester (Div 6) and Sandra Ruck (Div 5) on August 26 and later to Federal Member for Petrie Luke Howarth.

“The campaign takeaway for us all is that litter is a silent killer it just does not disappear after this 100-day campaign. It sits in the environment for up to hundreds of years, re-entering our food chain. We all play a role to stop littering in our environment,” Mr Barkla says.

“The 13 recommendations in this report is a callout for government to take priority action against serious litter issues, not just at Clontarf but on the Redcliffe peninsula, throughout Queensland and around Australia.”

During the 100-day campaign, volunteers collected 15,706 items, an average of 157 litter items dropped every day across the 12 audit sites.

Mr Barkla says this equates to 62,000 litter items each year in a 2km radius at Clontarf. The campaign resulted in a 45 per cent reduction in letter at the Snook St audit site, using awareness and education strategies.

“We have collected 5264 plastic items, 4691 cigarette butts, 2667 fast-food packaging and paper-based items, and 10, 578 cigarette butts across four other sites since the campaign (finished),” he says.

Plea to take responsibility

Mr Barkla is calling on people to use litter bags in their cars as well as containers to collect cigarette butts.

He says there are recommendations for all three levels of government to take action and he hopes they will implement them.

Mr Barkla has asked for the report to be handed to the State Environment Minister and says he would welcome an opportunity to speak to her about the recommendations.

Ms D’Ath says she will ensure the Minister receives a copy and says she will request a meeting.

Cr Winchester has promised to table the report in Council, and work with his colleagues to reach a broader audience.

Cr Ruck says she would like to see more education in schools, which often filtered through to families.

Cr Winchester says the Moreton Bay Region is a large geographic area with a large population, so there is real potential for change if the community gets on board.

Mr Howarth says he sees plastic bottles, coffee lids and other rubbish washing into local waterways as he travels around the area.

“A lack of personal responsibility and laziness is evident in a small percentage of our community. This unfortunately won’t change,” he says.

“The Federal Government has legislated to ensure companies use biodegradable products, but ultimately further legislation will be needed to ensure all products are NATURAL that break down quickly will be required.”

A spokesperson from Assistant Minister for Waste Reduction and Environmental Management Trevor Evans said: “Right now, we are on a plastics mission. We have started implementing a National Plastics Plan which lists concrete steps that all Australian governments have committed to take to tackle plastic waste”.

“We are attacking the plastic problem on five key fronts, through: legislation, investment, industry targets, research and development, and community education. Some of the strategies which are already underway are:

• putting an end to problematic and unnecessary plastics such as lightweight plastic shopping bags, plastic straws and utensils, bowls and plates, polystyrene and plastic microbeads

• funding a plastic free beaches initiative to help retailers phase out single-use plastics ahead of ban deadlines

• establishing a taskforce to address the plastic pollution from littered cigarette butts

• ensuring 100 per cent of all packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025

• requiring new product labelling to help Australians better understand recycling options”

Find out more about the Federal Government’s phasing out of problematic plastic here

The report’s 13 recommendations were:

  1. Federal Government to undertake a national anti-litter campaign
  2. Review the 2025 National Packaging Targets and plastic pact to make it stronger, investigate priority technologies and force changes in relation to cigarette butt manufacture and clean-ups.
  3. State Government to increase litter fines to $500 per offence
  4. Increase cigarette butt litter fines by 500 per cent
  5. On-the-spot fines for littering
  6. Review state online litter and illegal dumping reporting tool to make it a user-friendly app
  7. Allocate Queensland State Waste Levy funds to more targeted litter and marine debris clean-ups
  8. State funding for Council to join the Boomerang Alliance Plastics Free Places program to reduce purchase and disposal of plastic items.
  9. Targeted litter campaign strategies via ‘Love our Suburb’ initiatives, targeted trash bucket campaign with cafes, butt-free Moreton Bay Program
  10. Authority given to local government officers to issue on-the-spot litter fines
  11. Local government enforcement of litter fine powers
  12. Expansion of LGAQ/Keep Queensland Beautiful training and insurance for litter waste warriors
  13. Local government to fund and organise frequent litter collections

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