Murdoch’s war on waste

June 8, 2017

Dr Catherine Baudains

Dr Catherine Baudains is an environmental education researcher

A Murdoch University environmental education researcher is urging individuals and councils to ditch plastic bags and rethink how they dispose of waste.

Dr Catherine Baudains, from the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, says Western Australia (WA) is one of three Australian States that has yet to ban plastic bags.

She believes that Australia is a long way behind European countries in taking action on convenience-driven waste.

“There are many grassroots efforts to reduce our dependency on single use plastic bags, and they have been having an influence, but they really need the support of ‘top down’ management decisions,” said Dr Baudains.

Her call comes as the Town of East Fremantle and the City of Fremantle, south of Perth, move to implement a ban on single use bags. The national broadcaster ABC’s War on Waste series is also highlighting how consumer demand, supermarket policies and cynicism about the effectiveness of recycling is driving Australia to become more wasteful than ever before.

Australia is currently the fifth most wasteful country in the world, generating 52 mega-tonnes a year. The average Australian household throws away $1,036 worth of food each year.

Dr Baudains said plastic is the most common form of waste found in landfill and there are growing scientific concerns about how far reaching its impact is becoming. There is even evidence that microplastics are ending up on our dinner plates as the items work their way into the food chain.

But there are plenty of easy changes individuals can make to help tackle the problem of waste:

  • Take reusable bags with you wherever you go
  • Do a bin audit to understand what your biggest waste challenges are
  • Research waste processing – where our waste goes will influence how it should be separated
  • Make a meal list and only buy what is needed for those meals
  • Practice mindfulness

“It is not as difficult as many people think it is,” said Dr Baudains.

“A few small changes in the way we think about purchasing, packaging, and separating our waste at home can make a massive difference to the effectiveness of our local waste management services.”

Dr Baudains said there were plenty of online resources that can help individuals work towards a zero waste future, particularly on local council websites, and via programs such as Living Smart.

See the latest news from Murdoch University here.

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