Shire plans to ban plastics

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ORGANISERS of events on the Mornington Peninsula may eventually be told to stop using any items made from single use plastics.

Single use plastics facing a ban include balloons, water or beverage containers, coffee cups and lids, straws, bags, plates and cutlery, takeaway food containers and promotional items.

Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors have given the go ahead for $165,000 to be spent on the first stage of a program designed to wipe out single use plastic items.

Waste services team leader Daniel Hinson suggested phasing out single use plastics at shire events within one to two years and externally managed events on shire land within three years.

The mayor Cr David Gill has told The News that councillors want this timetable “done quicker”.

He said councillors were “very intent on doing it right” and believed tighter deadlines should apply to the shire “to show people we’re serious”.

Consultants would be hired as part of a program to outline the benefits to the public and businesses of not using single use plastics.

Other municipalities have failed in their efforts to phase out single use plastics, with just three of 14 setting a timeline for a ban and four already extending their original deadlines.

“There is no precedent for a successful shire-wide ban in Australia given the requirement for changes to the local by-laws and potential concern from traders who may not support the ban and may request compensation for lost business,” Mr Hinson stated in a report to council’s 8 October meeting.

Part of the first 12 months of bringing in the ban on plastics at events on the peninsula will include the shire supporting a “plastic free places” trial at Mt Martha.

Mr Hinson said there were alternatives to many single use plastic items that “can drastically reduce the impact of plastic on our environment”.

However, “significant investment” would be needed at shire-owned buildings for such things as sinks, dishwashers, crockery and cutlery, transport equipment and shelving to replace single use plastics.

“When discarded in landfill or in the environment, plastic can take thousands of years to decompose – if at all,” Mr Hinson said.

“Plastics break up into smaller and smaller pieces over time. The potential impact of plastic pollution is therefore long-term and can become increasingly difficult to manage over time.

“When littered, the economic impact of plastics comprises not only the lost economic value in the material and its production, but also the costs of clean ups, losses for recreation, tourism and the liveability of our coastal areas.”

Mr Hinson said the shire would gain credibility be “leading by example” by banning single use plastics within its own operations.

First published in the Mornington News – 15 October 2019

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