It sure is ironic that the humble plastic straw, which has made it into numerous recent Instagram feeds, newspaper stories and general discussions, may in fact be ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back”.
What may seem like an apparently harmless addition of straws to landfill is part of a much larger cumulative plastic waste effect which is leading to plastics polluting our waterways, oceans and ultimately ending up in the food chain.
How can we solve the plastic waste issue?
The answer is multifaceted and requires a combination of behaviour change from consumers, supply chain solutions from industry and action of policy makers.
The global movement is well underway with action being taken by individuals, corporations and governments.
Individuals – As people become more aware of the plastic waste issue, they are beginning to change their behaviour by adding sustainability as a factor to their decision making. This was found to be true by world leading market research firm, Nielsen, who recently published a report into consumer buying behaviour.
Corporations – Melbourne’s northern suburbs will be home to a new start of the art $20 million plastic recycling plant that will turn a waste product, that may have otherwise been diverted to landfill or exported to places like China, into useable feedstock for producing products.
In an effort to reduce waste from plastics by industry, a number of innovative solutions are now available thanks to some key players in the sustainable fashion movement like Repreve who make fibres from recycled materials like plastic bottles.
Finisterre is a great example of a sustainable fashion brand that is recycling waste plastic into a range of items from raincoats to lightweight travel bags.
Government – Policy makers are also getting on board by taking action. Take the South Australian Government for example who are currently drafting legislation to ban single-use items which will be introduced to parliament in 2020 with plastic straws one of the first items on the list.