Douglas eateries and Plastic Free Boy applaud single use plastic ban

Plastic Ban

Jereme Lane


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Barista from Whileaway Bookshope and Cafe, Pablo Labaronnie displays a selection of green alternatives to single-use plastic. Image: Jereme Lane
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The supply of single-use plastic items is now outlawed in Queensland after a ban came into effect as of today, 1 September.

It will be illegal for businesses to supply single use straws, stirrers, plates, bowls, cutlery and expanded polystyrene takeaway food containers and cups to their customers.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the ban would reduce single-use plastic pollution by 20 per cent over the next two years. According to a statement from the Queensland Government, 300 million tonnes of plastic waste is created every year which is nearly the equivalent to the weight of the entire human population.

Connor Clarke from Plastics Pirate is based in Port Douglas and working on a large-scale solution to plastic waste through a technology called plastic pyrolysis, which turns non-recyclable plastic into fuel. Clarke believes that the state government ban is a win.

“I do think it’s a move in the right direction. Collaboration is the only way we’ll win this war so every step forward helps move us towards that goal,” Clarke said.

“There’s two ways we can change our behaviour; we can give it a value or we can make things too difficult. This ban will force people to change their behaviour, for example by carrying their own straw with them. It will force us to adjust our ‘thow-away’ culture which is great.

Many businesses in Port Douglas have been well ahead of the curve with plastic reduction and are supportive of the ban. Having such a close relationship with the Great Barrier Reef means that the health of the environment is very important for the local community.

Macrossan Street burger bar N17 is one such business. According to owner Simon Macleod, single-use plastic was never an option for him and plastic reduction has been a factor since he opened his doors three years ago.

“We’ve been plastic free pretty much from day one. It was always very important to us,” Macleod said.

Macleod was joined in applauding the plastics ban by Whileaway Bookshop & Cafe manager, Kristen Poeschel.

“I think the ban is fantastic. In the cafe, we haven’t used single-use plastic for at least six months, maybe 12,” Poeschel said.

“Our takeaway lids are now completely plant-based and they work really well. The older version were a bit weak and sometimes cracked around the rim but the new generation are fantastic. The only thing I wish they would work on is the inner lining of the takeaway cups. They are still biodegradable but if they get into the ocean, the inner lining takes longer to break down and to a turtle, it looks like a jellyfish.

Although there is a new generation of biodegradable takeaway cups, with over a billion disposable coffee cups thrown away each year, more can still be done. Poeschel believes that Whileaway has one possible solution to this problem, and it’s a solution that’s taking off all around the country.

“It’s called Green Caffeen, it’s a completely free app that operates just like you’re borrowing a book from a library, except it’s for coffee cups. You can borrow a new cup if you forget to bring your first cup back and you can have quite a few cups for a certain amount of time before you’ll eventually get charged for not returning them.

With so many businesses in Douglas already leading the way in plastic reduction, Newsport felt the vibe on the street was that today’s ban felt like old news.

Connor Clarke was realistic when asked about the real impact of the ban in global terms.

“This is fantastic but in real terms it’s only scratching the surface. This is dwarfed by the impact had from communities around the world that have zero waste management.

Arlian and his mother Karin, who make up the world-famous plastic fighting duo Plastic-Free Boy, are currently in Port Douglas working on a new project on the Great Barrier Reef.

“It is great to see the whole state, an entire collective of people working together, not just individual towns,” Arlian said.

“We were talking to NSW in February about this and they are dragging their feet. We would love to see all the other states get on board, particularly NSW,” he said.

“When something gets banned, something new replaces it. We welcome the next step and the beginning of a new way,” Karin added.

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