Last straw for single-use plastics

It’s Plastic Free July and with major supermarkets removing single-use shopping bags from their checkouts, it’s a good time for the community to reflect on how they can avoid other disposable plastics.

The big four single-use items that produce the most plastic waste are bags, straws, disposable cups and water bottles – and they are also among the easiest to avoid.

Council’s Waste Minimisation Officer Adam Patyus said replacing single-use shopping and produce bags with reusable ones was a “no-brainer”, with numerous outlets now supplying or selling a variety of reusable bags.

However he said single-use plastic bags were just one of the top four items to avoid.

“Another we have grown accustomed to ‘needing’ is the lowly plastic straw,” he said.

“Plastics straws are largely unnecessary and extremely hazardous to land and aquatic fauna. They are often handed out in restaurants and fast food outlets whether you’ve requested one or not. Ask to skip the straw next time someone tries to give you one because straws suck.

“If you insist on having one, consider buying more planet-friendly reusables, such as aluminium or bamboo straws.”

Taking your own mug or investing in a reusable coffee cup for your next caffeine or hot chocolate hit is also encouraged.

“Many cafes offer discounts for customers who bring their own cup or mug so initial upfront costs are repaid in no time,” Mr Patyus said.

Above: Shane and Louisa Duffy took advantage of Council’s recent Shopping Trolley Challenge in Moruya, where residents were encouraged to embrace reusables and reduce their waste ahead of Plastic Free July. They are pictured with Council’s Waste Minimisation Officer Adam Patyus.

“If you have to use a disposable coffee cup, please remember that it can be recycled through placing it in a yellow-lidded bin once you’re done.”

The virtues of choosing tap or tank water over purchased bottled water are well documented, too.

“Bottled water is generally very expensive with most of the cost being for the packaging and branding and not the contents,” he said.

“Get yourself a reusable drink bottle and next time you’re out and about fill up at one of Council’s refill stations, which are dog-friendly too.”

Mr Patyus said the trick was to remember to keep reusable items handy when away from home.

“You can keep a stash in your car, your handbag or sports bag for those unplanned spur of the moment trips to shops or impulse buys,” he said.

“By avoiding these single-use plastic items, you’ll be helping to keep a considerable amount of plastic out of landfill and the environment.”

For more tips on reducing household waste, residents can refer to their Household Waste and Recycling Guide 2018-19, which is also available on Council’s website www.esc.nsw.gov.au/wasteandrecycling

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