Tasmania has earned the "dubious honour" of coming in last on a new scorecard ranking state and territory efforts to address the proliferation of single-use plastics.
The state shared bottom place with Victoria and the Northern Territory on WWF Australia's latest scorecard.
It comes after the City of Launceston council announced its intention to ban single-use plastics at council events last month.
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Tasmania's failure to take action to ban items such as plastic coffee cups, lids, balloons, plates, straws and packaging has resulted in the WWF giving it poor marks. The scorecard did, however, note the state government's plan, announced in June last year, to introduce a container deposit scheme.
Queensland jumped to the top of the rankings after stating its intention to ban a variety of single-use plastics from July next year, overtaking South Australia, Western Australia and the ACT.
"Victoria, Tassie and the Northern Territory must take action on some of the worst single-use plastic items, such as straws, utensils and plates," WWF Australia's Katinka Day said. "These items are already being addressed by other states and territories."
"As we look at how we're going to emerge from the COVID-19 health crisis, it's really important we don't forget about the huge impact plastic has on our environment.
"While some single-use plastic is necessary during a pandemic, it's still possible to avoid unnecessary plastic in a safe way.
"A staggering eight million tonnes of plastic ends up in the world's oceans each year and plastic dumped in one region can travel and impact others."
Tasmanian Greens senator Peter Whish-Wilson said he was "disappointed but not surprised" that Tasmania had been recognised as a poor performer in terms of action to curb the use of single-use plastics.
"It's like the state is just waiting for the federal government or other states to do stuff to give them cover to somehow be green and better at recycling," he said. "What disappoints me the most is just the lack of leadership."
"This, generally, is something where it doesn't matter what your political colour or what your demographic is. Everyone supports action on reducing waste, improving recycling and removing plastics from the ocean."
What disappoints me the most is just the lack of leadership.Peter Whish-Wilson, Tasmanian Greens senator
Senator Whish-Wilson tabled a bill in the Senate last year aiming to commit Australia to reducing the use of packaging and plastics. The Product Stewardship Amendment (Packaging and Plastics) Bill 2019 seeks to amend existing legislation to lock in a number of targets, including:
- Ensuring that 100 per cent of all packaging is reuseable, recyclable or compostable by 2025;
- Consumption of plastic food containers and cups will be reduced by 25 per cent by 2025; and
- 80 per cent of all beverage containers will be recycled by 2025.
The bill was referred to a Senate inquiry, which will hold its first hearing next Wednesday.
Tasmanian Environment Minister Roger Jaensch said the state government recognised that plastic waste could have "adverse impacts on the environment".
"We are taking action to reduce waste and support the circular economy in Tasmania," Mr Jaensch said. "Our draft waste action plan includes a number of actions to help achieve a phase-out of problematic and single-use plastics and help build capacity in the Tasmanian resource recovery sector.
"We are also committed to having the lowest instance of litter in the country by 2023, which is why we are implementing a container refund scheme in the state that we are aiming to roll out in 2022."
Tasmania's draft waste action plan commits to "work at the national level and with local government and businesses" in the state to phase out "problematic and unnecessary" plastics - including materials such as packaging and single-use plastics - by 2030.
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