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Media Release - Plastic Free Places Coming to Townsville

October 02, 2019

Plastic Free Places initiative to roll out in North Queensland

More than five million plastic pieces will no longer be needed in 2020 as Queensland food outlets make the switch to more sustainable options, including reusable and compostable items.

The Plastic Free Places program will now be available to Townsville and Cairns cafes, events and food outlets, thanks to funding from the Queensland Government. This follows the enormous success of the Plastic Free Noosa pilot, where three million single-use plastic items, such as straws, coffee cups and lids, plastic bags, plastic cutlery and takeaway containers have been eliminated in the past 18 months.

Member for Thuringowa Aaron Harper said he was delighted that Townsville was among the first regions to introduce this community-based program.

“It’s great that the Palaszczuk Government is providing $180,000 for this program and supporting local businesses and suppliers to make a positive change to reduce single-use plastic items.

“This is fantastic for the Townsville business community and for the environment,” Mr Harper said.

“Our environment, including our plant and marine life is literally choking in plastic. This initiative gives businesses and the community the information to make changes now.

“The program will be delivered by the conservation group Boomerang Alliance and we can’t wait to see its successful roll out in Townsville.”

Boomerang Alliance is a national peak not-for-profit organisation that was formed with the aim of empowering local communities in their struggle to stem the massive waste of discarded resources polluting our environment.

Queensland Manager for Boomerang Alliance Toby Hutcheon said 200 cafes, food outlets and events signed up to the Noosa pilot program.

“Our members have switched to reusable or 100% compostable food-ware instead,” he said.

“We hope to make the same impression in both Townsville and Cairns.

“Reducing single use plastic takeaway items means less waste and less litter. This supports efforts to reduce plastic pollution of the Great Barrier Reef, a recognised major threat to reef and wildlife health.”

Mr Harper said once a local business joins up as a member to this great program, they will have access to resources to support them in while they work towards eliminating their single-use plastic items.

“There are so many benefits from participating in this program, and what’s better is that there’s is no joining or membership costs,” Mr Harper said.

“There will be a dedicated program coordinator to help businesses start replacing single-use plastic items with identified reusable or compostable alternatives, and resources with information on sourcing alternative products and other educational material.

“The program offers rewards and those who significantly reduce their plastic use become 'Plastic Free Champions' and have certificates to display to customers, as well as public recognition for their achievements.

“The Council can also get involved and ensure they are running plastic free events by using the guidance materials made by Boomerang Alliance released earlier this year.”

Townsville café owner Kelly Bolger has switched to more environmentally friendly options and said her customers are supportive of the move.

“I have three small children and I worry about their future. We all have to do our bit for the environment, so I try my hardest to reduce and reuse,” Ms Bolger said.

“My café currently uses biodegradable takeaway containers and coffee cups. I also stamp the cup rather than use stickers too, which further reduces plastic.”

“We have wooden forks and knives for take away and paper straws. We also give customers a 50c discount if they bring their own takeaway cup.”

“Customer reactions’ are brilliant. Some have started asking for their food items to not be placed in any type of plastic. More are striving to do their bit for the environment.”

This initiative is part of the Queensland Government’s continued commitment to reducing waste across our state with the lightweight plastic shopping bag ban, the container refund scheme and the waste disposal levy, all introduced in this term of government.

The government is also developing a Plastic Pollution Reduction Plan to identify how government, business and the community can work together to reduce the impacts of plastic pollution.

ENDS

CONTACT: Thuringowa Electorate Office 47663100

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