Minister Plibersek handed 20,000 more reasons to cut plastic use

Monday, 17 Jun, 2024

Thousands of Australians have called on the federal government to cut plastic packaging by 20% by 2030, as plastic continues to kill ocean wildlife, and increasing amounts of research show how microplastics are poisoning the planet, entering our food sources and even our bodies.

Federal Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek received a petition during a Sydney clean-up event at Coogee Beach on Friday 14 June 2024, signed by more than 20,000 Australians, calling on the government to act to cut plastic packaging by 20% by 2030.

With big corporations not doing enough to cut plastic packaging, the Australian Government must set an ambitious national plastic reduction target that will reduce plastic pollution and hold companies to account. France has set a goal to reduce single-use plastic packaging by 20% by 2025.

Plastic is in the air we breathe, and the food and water we consume. Plastic packaging breaks up into microplastics – bits of plastic less than five millimetres. Research is increasingly showing the impact that microplastics are having on the environment and human health, with plastics found throughout marine ecosystems, our food chains and our bodies.

There are more than 4000 toxic chemicals in plastics that are linked to human health issues and are considered highly hazardous to the environment. Recent studies have shown that corals that have contact with plastic are 20 times more likely to contract diseases.

Plastic pollution is found in more than 60% of seabird species, and over half the world’s turtles have eaten marine debris including plastics.

Volunteers participate in a beach clean up as part of the petition delivery. Photo: Sea Shepherd

Sea Shepherd Marine Debris Coordinator Karolina Strittmatter said:

“In one hour, 40 volunteers have removed 25 kilograms of trash, with the top items being cigarette butts, plastic food packaging and plastic remnants. Beach clean-ups are a great reminder of what we use daily and what changes must be made. That’s why we are calling on the Australian Government to cut plastic from the source and help protect the ocean for generations to come. We are grateful to everyone who joined us and helped to clean up.”

AMCS Plastics Campaign Manager Cip Hamilton said:

“Plastic has been mass produced for only about 80 years, yet our oceans are already choking in the stuff, killing our marine life and turning up in our food and our bodies. An estimated 130,000 tonnes of Australia’s plastic waste leaks into the natural environment every year, entangling, suffocating and starving our turtles, whales and seabirds. Reducing plastic packaging is critical for the health of our environment and for the health of humans.

“Plastic packaging is one of the worst offenders, with soft plastics, food packaging and beverage litter accounting for nearly 70% of all plastics found by Clean Up Australia volunteers.

“Our lives are wrapped in plastic, it’s impossible to avoid. As part of the packaging reform, we are calling on the Australian Government to take the critical action needed to hold corporations to account and to cut plastic packaging.”

Volunteers sort and count the trash collected during the beach clean. Photo: Sea Shepherd.

Boomerang Alliance Director Jeff Angel said:

"The federal and state governments are currently finalising proposals for new packaging laws and will make a decision at a critical joint meeting next Friday. We know the community is frustrated by the lack of action by producers and our organisations want to see a 20% plastic reduction target included in those packaging laws.

“The longer we wait to take action, the more long-lasting plastics will accumulate in the environment and our bodies.”


Thank you to everyone who took action by signing the petition or attending our clean-ups!

Join the Sea Shepherd Australia crew this July in declaring that 'Plastic is not Fantastic' - find a beach clean up event near you and learn more about the hidden costs of 'convenience' with single-use-plastics Together we can turn off the plastic tap.

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