The Weekly Advertiser

EDITORIAL | We can solve this mess

Dean Lawson Editorial Nov 2017

Finding an answer to the plastic-waste issue appears as daunting as the mountains of rubbish growing daily.
The unfolding pollution problem caused by minimal-use disposable plastics, which has been occurring for years, is now capturing plenty of attention.
It has also led to the concept of recycling, which in only a couple of decades grew from a good idea to combat landfill issues to a huge multi-national business, to be truly under the spotlight.
Anyone old enough to have followed the recycling revolution from inception remembers there were fears about the industry’s ability to get on its feet. Finding markets and generating money to support an unproven industry were initial stumbling blocks.
It eventually blossomed and is now a way of life. But for some of us it feels, to some degree, that we’re back to square one.
We’re not! Opportunities abound to turn a serious negative into a positive. We have systems or avenues in place and it all comes down to being smart, willing to promote ideas and concepts, taking measured risks and being driven by sound leadership.
Governments must take a philosophical, financial and hard-edged lead to initiate confidence for private enterprise to help break this issue’s back and turn the industry on its head.
One-use throw-away petroleum plastic, in the form of products in their own right or part of a product’s collective mix, is the core of the problem.
The ‘indestructible’ aspect of plastic remains a powerful friend to modern society. It is also a growing enemy to the environment that supports us and other life.
This analysis more than suggests this part of the waste equation is as much a governance as any other issue.
We obviously need more rules on what we can and can’t allow into the ‘readily disposable’ manufacturing chain. We’re seeing this happen – at snail’s pace.
The reality is, as modern consumers, we take much for granted. We will be far from content in giving up the luxuries that one-use plastic provides. Some, for example, will also want to continue a throw-away lifestyle.
We need alternative products and ideas. One of them sits in the vast hectares of cellulose and starch in spent or failed broadacre crops.
Clean green waste can be transformed into ‘compostable’ plastic, a product that can readily break down into natural elements, and is an industry waiting to blossom.
What to do?
Imagine that we stop the one-use plastics with no or little recyclable value from getting into the system. What do we do with what the vast volumes of plastic already accumulated?
We ramp up our consideration of it being a resource and make it readily available, perhaps with inspired incentives and parameters, for creative manufacturers to exploit – a concept not too dissimilar from the genesis of the recycling movement.
An obvious formula is to turn short-term-use items into long-term products, obviously easier said than done, but entrepreneurial groups are already doing this.
It is more than disconcerting when, driving in the Wimmera, we see plastic bottles, some of them many years old, littering roads and road verges.
This is more than simple littering. It reflects a problem and an opportunity and something we must tackle with gusto.

The entire May 8, 2019 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!


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Posted on May 8 2019

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