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AUSTRALIA’S PLASTIC BAG DEPENDENCE CONTRIBUTING TO GLOBAL MARINE DEBRIS CRISIS

Report finds Australia’s plastic bag dependence contributing to global marine debris crisis

Media Release - 9 June 2009

The findings of the first-ever attempt to assess the impact of marine litter across the world has highlighted the urgent need for a ban on plastic shopping bags in Australia, Clean Up Australia said today.

The new United Nation’s report "Marine Litter: A Global Challenge" found that plastic, especially plastic bags and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) bottles, is the most pervasive type of marine litter on the planet.

The report found that plastic makes up over 80 per cent of all rubbish found in seas worldwide and plastic bags almost 10 per cent.

Clean Up Australia Chairman Ian Kiernan AO said the report findings highlight the need for the federal government to make a national ban on plastic shopping bags a priority.

Mr Kiernan said that when state and federal environment ministers met recently to discuss national waste issues a solution for plastic bags was again stalled. “It’s incomprehensible that they would continue to let such a critical issue slide.

“The Federal Government has run out of reasons for not acting on a plastic bag ban.”

The executive director of the United Nation’s Environment Programme (UNEP), Achim Steiner, said at the launch the new report “some of the litter, like thin film, single-use plastic bags, which choke marine life, should be banned or phased-out rapidly everywhere because there is simply zero justification for manufacturing them anymore, anywhere."

In an illustration of the extent of damage that can be caused by rubbish dumped at sea, the report highlighted that much of the rubbish dumped off Western Australia ends up on the east coast of South Africa. Along the way, plastics can be mistaken as food by numerous animals, including marine mammals, birds, fish, and turtles.

“Almost 4 billion plastic bags are still being produced for Australian use every year. This report again highlights that 80 per cent of the rubbish found in our oceans comes from the land. It’s environmentally negligent to allow this to continue, when the solution for plastic bags is so simple – ban them” Mr Kiernan said.

For further information contact Alana Mew, 0423 377 567

 

 
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