A community-driven initiative aims to make Dungog the first town in Australia to become single-use plastic free.
Single-use plastic bags, bottles, take away coffee cups and straws are the four items that are overwhelmingly used just once and thrown away with the new initiative aiming for the community to “choose reusables” by July 2019.
The Single-Use Plastic Free Dungog Project was born out of discussions from community members involved in the popular Science Week events in the shire in August.
Michelle Dado-Millynn from Boomerang Bags said young scientists involved in a panel discussion during the Science Week events spoke with residents about an initiative underway to make Newcastle the first city in Australia to be single use plastic free by 2025.
“People are becoming more and more supportive of Reduce Reuse Recycle in Dungog and we believe we have the platform to make this happen here,” she said.
“Dungog is already a leader in the plastic free movement with Boomerang Bags, BeeRapt, Soft Plastics Recycling and Responsible Cafes with many of the local businesses making a difference with their environmentally friendly practices.
“Both of the primary schools in Dungog are coming on board along with the high school which already has an enthusiastic recycling committee who are aiming to get the whole school involved.”
While the project is still in its infancy, the group distributed flyers during National Recycling Week last week to give the community more information on recycling and what alternatives to single use they can use.
“We are planting the seed and asking the community to join us,” said Ms Dado-Millynn.
“Getting Dungog to be single use plastic free is a win win in terms of the environment and the local economy.
“On average, Australians produce three billion tonnes of plastic each year, but only 12% is recycled.
“More frightening still, up to 130,000 tonnes of that plastic will find its way into the ocean.
“NSW is the second biggest generator of waste in the world with waste generation in Australia having increased by 170% in the last 20 years,” said Ms Dado-Millynn.
“This will not only put our town on the map in more ways than one but will also set a fantastic example for the rest of Australia.”
While the project has the support of Dungog Shire Council, Two Local Blokes IGA's and Dungog District Chamber of Commerce, leading the charge are members of Boomerang Bags and the Paterson Allyn Williams Science Hub.
Boomerang Bags Dungog has made more than 3000 bags so far and makes cutlery tote bags, beeswax food wraps and produce bags which are available at the Local Growers market in Dungog on Saturday mornings.
Dungog Shire Council has reported that 12 tonne of soft plastics has been diverted from landfill since starting the Dungog Waste/Plastic Police soft plastics recycling program in June last year.
The Responsible Cafes initiative is also showing increasing community support for choosing reusables. You can find ideas on how to recycle different things at the website www.recyclingnearyou.com.au