We here at Sprudge like to poke fun at Australia from time to time, give the ole wallaby a good chazzwazzlin’, as I believe it is referred to by locals. And most of the time it’s out of love—’Straya is home to one of the best countrywide coffee cultures in the world, after all. Other times, though, like when they pretty much banished COVID from within their borders and got to have nice things, we act out of jealousy. This is one of those times, as one state in Australia is instituting a drastic new plan to reduce plastic waste and it includes doing away with disposable coffee cups.
New South Wales, the southeastern state home to Sydney, the most populated city in Australia, looks to institute sweeping reform as a means of limiting the amount of plastic waste that ultimately ends up in the oceans. As reported by VOA News, the changes are still working their way through the state government, with some going into effect as early as this year. Included in the package is an outright ban “many common plastic items, including straws, drinks stirrers, and cutlery” and “lightweight plastic shopping bags.” Other plastic products may be phased out as well, as more environmentally-friendly paper and bamboo alternatives become available.
And while straw bans aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, the new legislation is also set to include polystyrene cups and food packaging, as well as plastic take away coffee cups and lids. This portion of the new laws will take effect in 2022, helping to stem the estimated one billion to-go coffee cups thrown away by Australians every year.
Takeaway cups have felt like a necessary evil for much of the pandemic, but with restrictions beginning to cautiously ease, the time to challenge takeaway throaway cup culture is now. NSW officials estimate the proposed bans will keep 2.7 billion plastic items from ending up in landfills and/or polluting the oceans over the next 20 years. Currently, per NSW Environment Minister Matt Kean, there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050 if the earth continues on at its current pace.
No-one wants to be wading through plastics when they go to the beach, let alone be consuming it in their food and water, and that is what we are doing at the moment. Every day in New South Wales people are consuming over 2,000 bits of plastic. That is the equivalent of a credit card of plastic they are ingesting every week and it is largely because of the pervasiveness of single-use plastics across our environment. So, we believe that we can do something about that. Do something about it where there are alternatives available and when it does not add to cost and that is what I am looking to see.
The proposals led the World Wildlife Fund Australia to state that the NSW and Western Australian governments are in a “race to the top” in waste reform measures, and honestly, I didn’t know that was a way that governmental races could even go. We here in America try to race to appease the lowest common denominator or at best, race to the middle, so seeing substantive top-down reform on one of the leading issues facing the globe today is frankly refreshing if not a bit irksome in the amount of jealousy it induces. So good for you, Australia. Enjoy your flatties and avo smashies under the care and protection of at least a semi-functional government. Must be nice. Your toilets still flush backwards, though.