The ABC’s War on Waste began its second season last night. I watched it with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Australians across the country. Twitter was lit.
Last night’s episode focused on plastics pollution and I would like to draw attention to a fantastic grassroots campaign occurring in my own community. Through the “Straws Suck” campaign, cafes and restaurants in Sunshine’s town centre are currently switching from plastic to paper straws, reducing what will eventually be up to 40,000 straws a day. Now this is what the start of change looks like.
Considering how deep the recycling crisis has hit Victoria, with stockpiles of recycling left throughout the city, igniting into fires at Laverton North, Knox, and the original SKM Plant in Coolaroo, I am reminded about how hard it is to create change without the political will.
Yes, everyday Victorians should be thinking about what we put in our bins. But the real problems around waste are systemic. What do we do about supermarket vegetables double wrapped in plastic? Or mobile phones built to be replaced within three years? The policy settings throughout the chain of consumption, from the endpoint of landfill back to initial product design, still depends upon a “dig-produce-dump” model of consumerism.
The reality is that much of our precious finite resources will be depleted within a generation. We are handing our children a planet bereft of so many of the resources we so mindlessly landfill today.
I’m excited by the potential for change. I’m excited because when we build a circular economy, here in Victoria, we will not only significantly reduce our environmental footprint but create the kind of regulatory stability that allows for Victorian industry to invest, innovation to thrive, and for our state to lead not follow.
To meet this challenge, we need change that is forward-thinking, large-scale and transformative.
Over the course of the next few months, the Greens will outline Victoria’s first bold steps towards a circular economy.