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Greens to fill funding gap in fight against plastic threat to our oceans and wildlife

Media Release
Peter Whish-Wilson 5 Sep 2013

Today in Tasmania, Australian Greens spokesperson for waste and recycling, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, announced the Australian Greens' costed plan to fund research that will fill a gap in the Government's approach to the threat of marine debris.

"We are facing a global plastic pollution crisis in our oceans that both starts and ends right here in Tasmania," said Senator Whish-Wilson.

"Plastic pollution is killing our wildlife, choking our waterways and oceans, and hurting our brand as a clean, green destination.

"And while the threat of marine debris to wildlife has been recognized under EPBC law since 2003 there are no dedicated national resources to implement a threat abatement plan.

"That is why the Greens will establish a stand-alone fund to provide $1M per year for researchers to survey and collect data on the impact of marine debris and the most efficient ways to remove and prevent litter and debris entering the marine environment.

"And much of the work would likely be done by the Hobart based CSIRO scientists who have pioneered recent research that shows, on average, there are three items of marine debris per metre around the entire Australian coastline and that 75% of these items are plastic.

Other volunteer groups like the South West Marine Debris Cleanup have spent more than a decade surveying and cleaning remote Tasmanian beaches to build a picture of the scale of the problem in this state.

"Our team collected over 35,000 items this year, and over 9,500 containers and 6,500 lids have been found since 2001 with over 90% of all items being plastic," said Matt Dell coordinator for the South West Marine Debris Cleanup volunteer group.

Over the past 4 months Senator Whish-Wilson has led his own statewide cleanup effort across Tasmania collecting thousands of cans and bottles, often finding more than one beverage container for every metre covered.

"It's a dirty secret that our beaches, waterways, and roads are covered in beverage industry rubbish - it's terrible for our brand, not to mention our wildlife.

"Curb-side recycling or more bins will not remove this ugly beverage container rubbish - the solution is a national "cash-for-containers" scheme implemented through legislation.

"Our July 2013 polling shows 9 out of 10 Tasmanians support national container deposit legislation - everybody knows it's good for the environment, good for our wildlife, and good for our tourism brand," Senator Whish-Wilson concluded

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