Is That Food to Go? It May Not Be in Plastic Much Longer
“Across the world, people are starting to realize we’ve created a disaster with the amount of plastic we use and the amount of plastic that enters the environment,” he said.
Most of the city’s plastic is going to a landfill, even if it is placed in a recycling bin, Mr. Harvey said.
“There’s no market for all this plastic. China’s now said they’re not going to take the waste of other countries anymore,” he added. “So we have to come up with a solution for our own waste in Australia. And the major thing we can do is avoid it in the first place.”
Worldwide, vast amounts of plastic waste are swept into storm drains and end up in rivers and oceans. Plastic bags and containers break apart into smaller pieces, known as microplastic, which fish and seabirds ingest. This can be lethal for animals, and pollutants can accumulate over time and travel up through the food chain.
It is estimated that at least five trillion pieces of plastic are floating on the surface of the world’s oceans.
Mark Osborn, an associate professor at RMIT University in Melbourne, is researching what happens to plastic containers — both regular plastic and biodegradable — when left in rivers. Over nine months of study, he found that there was no change to the plastics’ chemical structure. They are not breaking down.
Mr. Osborn said that he did not expect Hobart’s ban, if passed, to have an impact: “Given the size of Hobart, forgive the pun, it’s a drop in the ocean.”
“But what they’re doing is setting an example to try and change behavior,” he said. “If more and more cities, and indeed countries, take action in relation to plastic, the more we can start stemming the amount of plastic going out into the environment.”
Philip Zhao, the manager of Dumpling Express in Hobart, said he would switch from plastic to compostable containers if they do not leak. The thing about plastic, many restaurant owners say, is that it works. Mr. Zhao said that customers would most likely welcome a change.
“If the customer understands the reason we are doing this, changing from normal cheap plastic to environmentally friendly packaging that’s actually saving our environment, I think they would be happy to pay a little bit extra,” he said.
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