A commitment by Brisbane City Council to phase out single-use plastics is a major boost for South East Queensland’s waterways, according to environmental rehabilitation group Healthy Land and Water.
On May 16, Brisbane City Council announced it would move to ban plastic drinking straws and phase out the use of helium balloons and single-use plastic bottles at all council operations and sponsored events.
Healthy Land and Water Chief Executive Officer Julie McLellan commended Brisbane City Council and said the move will have a positive effect on South East Queensland’s waterways.
“Bold action from community leaders is crucial if we are to reduce the impact of plastic pollution on our environment,” she said.
“A ban on these single-use plastic items will cut the amount of rubbish entering our waterways, improve the quality of marine habitats and reduce the number of marine animals injured or killed each year by ingesting plastic pollution.”
Ms McLellan said research conducted by University of Queensland found thirty per cent of dead turtles found in Moreton Bay had ingested plastic litter.
“That’s why Healthy Land and Water is so focused on reducing plastic pollution, and why I encourage all South East Queensland councils and our state and federal counterparts to consider a similar commitment to banning single-use plastics.”
In a worrying trend, data collected by Healthy Land and Water found the amount of plastic pollution entering SEQ’s waterways increased in 2017, the first rise in four years.
The data was collected as part of Healthy Land and Water’s Clean Up Program, an initiative to remove litter from South East Queensland’s waterways.
In the twelve months to June 2017, the Clean-Up crew plucked more than 16,000 single-use plastic bottles from waterways across Brisbane, the Gold Coast, Logan and Ipswich.
Almost 10,000 plastic pieces including straws and balloons were also collected in the same period.
Ms McLellan said the findings highlighted why the ban on single-use plastics was important.
“Buying bottled water and grabbing a plastic straw might be convenient, but it comes at a terrible price for the environment,” she said.
Ms McLellan said everyone in the community can help stem the tide by turning to environmentally friendly alternatives that already exist like go2zone, a social enterprise launched by Healthy Land and Water in 2017 providing free chilled water refill stations at busy locations around SEQ.
“Instead of buying plastic bottles when you’re out and about, take your own water bottle and fill it up for free with clean chilled water from one of the go2zone water refill stations dotted around the region,” she said.
“Instead of a plastic straw, carry a reusable straw and next time you’re celebrating a special occasion, ditch the balloons and decorate with other re-usable items that are safe for the environment.”
“We believe it’s important for everyone to take a stand and help stem the tide,” she said.
Brisbane City Council is yet to detail when the phase-out will begin.
The Healthy Land and Water Clean-Up Program is supported by Brisbane City Council, Logan City Council, Ipswich City Council, Port of Brisbane, City of Gold Coast, the Queensland Government and the Australian Government.