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Breaking News: Council Motion to phase out single-use plastic

As people get more and more concerned about the damaging amounts of plastic waste in our environment, and entering our food supply, communities have begun to take action. Now Blue Mountains Councillor, Kerry Brown, has demonstrated that Blue Mountains City Council is listening and is prepared to do something about it.


“There are no practical barriers to eradicating single-use 
plastics. It is a matter of will,” said Kerry. “I think our community has the will and Council must support that.”

At the Council Meeting in late June, Kerry will move that Council urge the State Government to follow the lead of South Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory and the ACT and legislate against the use of single-use lightweight plastic bags of less than 35 microns.


She’s also moving that Council invite Coles and Woolworth 
to run a 12-month pilot program in the Blue Mountains, replacing its free lightweight plastic bags with priced multi-use bags.


Kerry’s Notice of Motion also asks Council to phase out 
single-use plastics in its own operations.


It acknowledges the community’s efforts to cut back on single-use 
plastic in the Mountains.


“Blue Mountains Food Co-op has really led the way and 
demonstrated 36-years of leadership on this,” she said. “They’ve sold unpackaged food, which customers have happily decanted into their own multi-use brown paper bags, and recycled jars, for

almost four decades. Despite the big supermarkets’ expansion into healthy foods and organics, the Co-op has continued to

grow and thrive, showing that many people are very keen to shop without creating unnecessary plastic waste.”


Since 2013, too, Marina Brown and her volunteers have 
worked with major events like Winter Magic and the Leura Harvest Festival to reduce the amount of waste they produce. They’ve introduced recycling and composting, and encouraged food stallholders to avoid using single-use plastic and polystyrene.


In May 2016 The World Heritage Institute launched its Low 
Carbon Living Rating Scheme which includes single-use plastic in its audit of participating businesses.


Then, in October 2016, Blackheath became the first town in 
the world in which all shop-front businesses agreed to phase out plastic straws. According to Lis Bastian from The Big Fix, who organised the phase-out, “this was made possible because we got sponsorship and used the buying power of all the businesses to source affordable paper straws. We’ve also been running a campaign to encourage people to rediscover the joy of drinking without a straw altogether! When the phase-out is complete, we’ll be saving around 40,000 plastic straws a month from landfill and from entering our waterways via our stormwater system.”

In the same month, the Combined Chambers of Commerce in the Blue Mountains launched an initiative to promote businesses trading without single-use plastic bags. This was endorsed by Slow Food Blue Mountains and participating Village Chambers.


Soon after, George Vergotis from the Blackheath & District Chamber of 
Commerce, reported that the Combined Chambers were interested in following Blackheath’s lead to phase out plastic straws.


This year, Boomerang Bags initiatives have popped up in 
Blackheath, Katoomba, Hazelbrook and Springwood. Volunteers have been sewing cloth bags in regular working bees and these will be distributed to local businesses for customers to borrow and return when they forget to bring their own (hence ‘boomerang’). Nearly 500 bags have been produced, with lots more on the way, and will be distributed soon.

Recently, Integrated Dental Health in Katoomba became the first recycling point in the Blue Mountains for dental waste that can’t normally be recycled in Council’s waste collection. Items like toothbrushes, toothpaste tubes and caps, floss and floss containers, and plastic dental picks and their containers. These will be collected from Integrated Dental Health and turned into playground equipment.


“I’m confident this Notice of Motion will be supported by 
Council,” said Kerry. “Together with the community we can put serious pressure on big supermarkets and State decision makers to say no to single-use plastic.”

 

Photo: Councillor Kerry Brown at the Blue Mountains Food Co-op

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We're very lucky to have Kerry Brown on Council. Kerry has a rare blend of qualities – ethical judgement, business nous and environmental awareness... not to mention her disarming sense of humour and irrepressible determination!

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