Photo by Luke Hodde

The NSW Government’s dual, Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy and Plastics Action Plan, that were released over the weekend have been welcomed by industry reps and environmental groups as a significant step in the right direction. 

Backed by $356 million in funding over five years, key reforms of the strategies include phasing out problematic single-use plastic items such as straws, stirrers, bags and EPS foodware.

The government will also introduce green plastic bins and an education program on separating food and organic waste to reduce those items ending up in landfill.

Industry peak body, The Waste Management and Resource Recovery Association of Australia (WMRR) welcomed the shift in focus towards circularity and apparent recognition of the need to design better materials.

“WMRR commends the government for embracing the actions needed for NSW to transition to a true circular economy, including a shift towards material management that places strong emphasis on sustainable design,” chief executive Gayle Sloan said. 

“The plastics plan is by far one of the strongest strategies we have in the country as it outlines a comprehensive suite of actions to address these materials at all points of their lifecycles.”

Director of the Boomerang Alliance and longtime environmental campaigner Jeff Angel said his organisation would continue to push for further reforms including industry action on the 2025 national waste and packaging recycling target.

‘’We are pleased the government has adopted our proposal to fund Operation Clean Sweep to stop microplastic pollution by nurdles escaping from plastic factories,” Angel said. 

“Overall, the two policies embody a comprehensive approach that will require dedicated and focused attention and ongoing updates, in coming years.” 

“With the alarm on plastic pollution and waste sounding ever louder, Boomerang Alliance will continue to push governments to do more, faster.  We can’t afford to slacken the pace of change.”