STRAWS and other single-use plastics will be removed from Council operations in an attempt to reduce waste produced in the region.
Cairns Regional Council today resolved to lead by example in a mission to protect the Great Barrier Reef by taking steps to remove single-use plastics from Council events and venues.
“Cairns is the principal gateway to one of the world’s most iconic natural assets: The Great Barrier Reef,” Mayor Bob Manning said.
“In 2018, we continue to see plastics impacting our land and sea environment, including our unique wildlife and corals. As a Reef Guardian Council this deeply concerns us.”
Cairns is believed to be among the first few councils in Australia to make such a commitment.
The move comes on the back of a campaign by 10-year-old Cairns girl Molly Steer, who recently received the 2018 Cairns Young Woman of the Year award.
“Molly has gained great traction with her ‘Straw No More’ campaign,” Cr Manning said. “She has brought this very serious issue to our attention through the eyes of a young resident who sees herself as a future custodian of our environment.
“As the present custodians, we owe her the opportunity to grow up with the same pristine natural wonders that we enjoyed as children.”
Cr Manning commended both Molly – who addressed today’s Planning and Environment Committee meeting – and Nicole Nash from The Last Straw on the Great Barrier Reef for the excellent results already achieved via their campaigns.
“The results of their work speak for themselves, with 88 tuck shops and 70 businesses along the GBR catchment removing plastic straws,” he said.
“They have both been working with The Citizens of the Great Barrier Reef, creating positive partnerships within our community on a very importance cause.”
Cairns Regional Council will begin to take steps to remove plastic straws and other single-use plastics from Council operations and will encourage others to follow suit.
“We’ll be writing to our lessees, market stallholders and event partners to encourage them to reduce their use of single-use plastics and we’ll be looking at how we can assist this,” Cr Manning said.
“Ultimately, we want to significantly reduce the amount of single-use plastics that are ending up in landfill or – worse still – in our waterways.”
The recently adopted Waste Reduction and Recycling Strategy highlights a need to reduce waste at the point of purchase.
“We have been doing our part by achieving a 60 per cent waste recovery rate, not permitting balloon releases on Council land, removing straws from Tanks Arts Centre, a waste-free dining trial planned for the 2018 ECOfiesta and the incoming Litter and Illegal Dumping Action Plan among other initiatives.
“In the International Year of the Reef, it’s fitting that we commit to this action now to reduce plastic pollution at the source - in alignment with the new Waste Reduction and Recycling Plan.
“With this in mind, we appeal to the community and local businesses to make an effort to look at how they can reduce straws and single-use plastics in their operations to contribute to a cleaner and healthier Great Barrier Reef.