Positive shift in plastic pollution

Shopping bags : 78 per cent of Cronulla survey participants said they would support a ban on single use plastic bags. Picture John Veage
Shopping bags : 78 per cent of Cronulla survey participants said they would support a ban on single use plastic bags. Picture John Veage

This year's popular Plastic Free July challenge was launched on World Environment Day - Tuesday, June 5.

After the 2017 Plastic Free July, the Cronulla branch of the Surfrider Foundation and the Cronulla Chamber of Commerce ran a plastic bag survey in Cronulla supported by both MP Mark Speakman and Mayor Carmelo Pesce.

The theme is ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ and  by taking the challenge everyone can be part of the solution to what is one of the greatest environmental challenges.

Around 600 consumers and 25 local businesses participated in the survey and the positive results were presented to local businesses within the Cronulla Chamber of Commerce showing there is a good shift in changing attitudes and practices towards plastic bags and single use plastics in general.

Single-use plastic is anything that is intended to be used once then thrown away, for example, plastic shopping bags, plastic coffee cups and plastic straws.

Questions were asked about shoppers habits with results showing 75 per cent of people would pay for plastic bags and when plastic bags were taken home 78  per cent were recycled .

Around 65  per cent of consumers would prefer paper bags over plastic of which 55  per cent of Cronulla shopkeepers already supply and that simple grocery plastic bags were the most commonly used,then reused.

In more positive news, 86  per cent of shoppers would use a mass produced eco-friendly bag  that cost a few cents more, with the Cronulla South Public School initiative of selling such reusable cloth and environment friendly bags paying off for the community.

Of those surveyed, 71 per cent said the number of plastic bags they used were only between one and-10 a week and in a sign of things to come 78  per cent said they would support a ban on single use plastic bags. 

Mark Aprilovic of the Cronulla Chamber of Commerce is leading the campaign to remove single use plastics from the Cronulla community, starting with the common plastic bag handed out in nearly every shop.

“Plastic bags represent one of the largest and most widely used groups of single use plastics in our society, their impact is terrible and there are numerous alternatives available right now,” Mr Aprilovic said.

The Surfrider Foundation said at least 10,000 tonnes of plastic, and possibly far more, enters the Australian marine environment every year. Much of this entangles, or is ingested by, marine life and other wild life. 

 The Plastic Free July challenge is easy – avoid single-use plastic packaging or go completely plastic-free. You can sign up for a day, a week, the month, or permanently-To register go plasticfreejuly.org