Media Release Plastic Pollution

Australia to push for ambition in plastics treaty negotiations

November 16, 2022

The Australian Government is showing leadership on ocean plastic by joining an international coalition that is pushing for ambitious rules to reduce plastic use worldwide, the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) said today. The government has pledged to ensure 100% of all virgin plastics are recycled or reused by 2040.

The 33 members of the High Ambition Coalition (HAC) to End Plastic Pollution, co-chaired by Rwanda and Norway, commit to a common negotiating position ahead of plastics treaty negotiations later this month. By joining the HAC, Australia commits to a vision to end plastic pollution by 2040, as well as the three strategic global goals and seven deliverables for success, including:

  1. Restrain plastic consumption and production to sustainable levels
  2. Enable a circular economy for plastics that protects the environment and human health
  3. Achieve environmentally sound management and recycling of plastic waste

AMCS ocean plastics expert Shane Cucow described the news as an important signal of Australia’s intent to be a leader, in advance of the first round of negotiations in Uruguay on November 28.

“Today’s announcement from the Australian Government is a clear commitment to leadership, just weeks before negotiations begin on a historic global treaty to end plastic pollution.

“By joining this High Ambition Coalition, Australia has joined a leading group of nations that are advocating for binding global rules that would bring plastic use down to manageable levels and increase the use of recycled content, while also ensuring all plastic products are genuinely reusable, recyclable or compostable in practice.

“Yet this must be more than words. Just 16% of Australia’s plastic packaging is actually getting recycled, and we’re on track to see plastic pollution in our oceans triple by 2040.

“We urge the Australian Government to lead by example with strong domestic action, by regulating the use of plastic packaging, setting mandated requirements for minimum recycled content and setting strong plastic reduction targets here at home.

“Australia is home to an incredible diversity of ocean wildlife found nowhere else in the world. Yet with plastic pollution rising rapidly, we’re going to see more plastic than fish in our seas within 30 years.

“We’re now regularly seeing turtles and their hatchlings routinely washing up on our beaches, sick and dying from plastic consumption. We’ve seen whales stranding on our beaches with more than 100 kilograms of plastic in their stomachs.

“We’ll never be able to clean the plastic out of our oceans without first turning off the tap, and that means drastically reducing plastic use globally.

“Australia’s state and territory governments have begun the critical task of phasing out many of the single-use plastics most commonly found in our oceans.

“We now need concerted action to reduce plastic packaging in all sectors.

“In the last week we have seen the disastrous consequences of allowing companies to continue using plastic for every wrap, pack and snack, with REDcycle buckling beneath a tidal wave of soft plastics.”