Labor has pledged to spend $290 million on cutting waste and fighting pollution if elected in May, as well as banning single-use plastic bags and microbeads – but the Boomerang Alliance argues that the party should go further.

Opposition leader Bill Shorten promised to ban lightweight single-use plastic bags and microbeads nationwide from 2021, and plans to consult with states, territories, and industry on the best way to achieve this.

“Plastic has a devastating impact on our natural environment – more than a third of the world's sea turtles were found to have plastic waste in their stomachs, and it is estimated around 90 per cent of seabirds eat plastic waste,” said Shorten.

“This policy will create a consistent approach across the country – following moves of many state and territories to phase out single-use plastic bags, as well as manufacturers phasing out microbeads.”

Labor has also earmarked $60 million for a national recycling fund, $15 million to help neighbouring countries clean up the Pacific Ocean, and a national container deposit scheme; a Shorten government would also set mandatory targets for government departments to purchase products made of recycled materials, including major federally-funded roads.

The Boomerang Alliance has hailed the announcement as a positive step, but urged Labor to go even further than that, with director Jeff Angel saying the plan is short on mandatory measures and investment.

“The recognition that we need to build our domestic recycling industry and $60 million in funding in response to rejection of our contaminated kerbside material by Asia are both welcome, as is a focus on plastic pollution caused by single, short term use plastics,” said Angel. “We need to do more, however, and Boomerang will be prosecuting the case in coming weeks.”

In particular, Angel pointed out the fact that the national container deposit scheme will not require Victoria and Tasmania, both hold-outs, to sign up.

“There’s an inconsistent approach with, on the one hand, implementing a national ban on plastic bags and microbeads but failing to ensure Victoria and Tasmania enact container deposit schemes. A bottle refund scheme is proven to be eminently effective and is saving billions of containers from being dumped.

“Victoria in particular, is becoming a recycling basket case and must be brought into the modern age with a refund scheme,” said Angel.

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