In 2017, YCAN started a petition to reduce the amount of single-use plastic used in Yarra’s takeaway food outlets. We called on Yarra Council to initiate a Proudly Plastic Free Yarra Campaign, to encourage food outlets in Yarra to stop distributing disposable plastic items, such as bags, bottles, cutlery, straws and packaging.
We envisage a star rating with levels of plastic freedom! And signage so that people buying takeaway food can easily identify which shops and restaurants are making an effort to be plastic free. People who signed the petition also pledged to preference businesses that display a Proudly Plastic Free Yarra sign. We collected hundreds of signatures and delivered the petition to council.
When Yarra Council released their 2018-19 budget last year, we were very pleased to see that there was funding for a Proudly Plastic Free Yarra program. On 30 June 2019, City of Yarra launched a trial in North Fitzroy. Council also has a Yarra Zero Waste app to help people find plastic free food outlets, including those who let people bring their own containers; bulk food stores; secondhand clothing and furniture shops; places where you can take items for recycling etc.
YCAN is a climate action group. So why are we so interested in reducing the amount of plastic that we use?
Plastic is an environmental nightmare.
Manufacture of plastics produces greenhouse gas — about six kilos of CO2 per kilo of plastic. In Australia, about 20,700 tonnes of plastic bags alone end up in landfill each year. We’ve only been making plastics for about 70 years, many types of plastic for a lot less than that. We don’t know how long it takes for plastic to breakdown or what precisely the products of that breakdown are.
There are many other strong environmental reasons for breaking our plastic habit. Plastic waste leaches toxins that can end up in our waterways. Plastic in our oceans kills marine life by choking and poisoning. Toxins from plastics can end up in our food chain.
Recycling reduces the problem, but the best strategy is not to use plastic in the first place.