A Tasmanian container deposit scheme would greatly reduce plastic pollution, says a Tasmanian academic.
Dr Joanna Vince, a Senior Lecturer in politics and international relations at the University of Tasmania said more needed to be done to combat plastic pollution.
“Research shows that on a local level container deposit schemes, and more opportunities for soft plastic recycling, can make a difference in the amount of plastic found in the ocean,” Dr Vince said.
“Plastic doesn’t disappear so the plastic that was around in 1950 is still around today but it is very hard to say stop using it.
“One garbage truck worth of plastic enters our oceans every minute.”
Dr Vince has published in leading international journals about marine plastic pollution.
The Tasmanian Government provided $100,000 to the Environment Protection Authority in last year’s budget to investigate a potential model for a container refund scheme for Tasmania that could complement other states.
A spokeswoman for Environment Minister Elise Archer said: “The report has recently been finalised, and the Government is currently considering its findings.”
Dr Vince said Tasmanian councils had greatly improved over the last few years with their waste management systems.
“Many now are able to accept soft plastics in their depots,” she said.
“However, many people aren’t aware of this and are still putting their soft plastics into general waste which becomes landfill.
“More collection points for soft plastics and education about this would be helpful for the Tasmanian community.”
Soft plastics include plastic bags, wraps, snap lock bags and packaging.
Dr Vince said the responsibility to reduce plastic pollution was one for consumers, governments and industry.
“We as consumers also have choices to make about the products we buy and how we dispose of them,” she said.
“I believe that the community has the ability to steer change in industry and governmental policies by their own behaviours towards plastic use.”
Dr Vince said her research showed that plastic pollution needed to be addressed on local, national, regional and global levels.
“The issue is multifaceted requiring a mixture of regulation, economic/market and community-based efforts to make a difference to reduce plastic pollution across the world,” she said.
Dr Vince said Tasmanians should contact their local councils or look up their websites to see if they accepted soft plastics.
South Australia’s scheme started in 1977.