In recent years a range of campaigns, media, movies and TV specials, such as ABC’s War on Waste, has shifted our focus towards creating sustainable environments. In schools, students are becoming keenly aware of the challenges we are facing due to society’s dependence on disposability and convenience. It is our children who will inherit a planet overflowing with waste produced and discarded, most of which ends up in our oceans and waterways.
In late 2020, the Western Australian government announced a roadmap to reduce our reliance on single-use plastics, specifically:
- A range of single-use plastics to be phased-out in Western Australia
- Education programs to support transition to a cleaner environment
- World Wildlife Fund-Australia (WWF-Australia) hails WA as a plastic-free national leader
- 98% of people surveyed want further action on plastics.
The Plan for Plastics (PfP) will be rolled out in two main stages.
- Regulations will be developed and implemented by 2023 for the State-wide phase-out of plastic plates, cutlery, stirrers, straws, thick plastic bags, polystyrene food containers and helium balloon releases.
- After these initial actions, the State Government will phase-out plastic barrier/produce bags, cotton buds with plastic shafts, polystyrene packaging, microbeads, and oxo-degradable plastics.
- The Waste Wise Schools program provides support to schools across WA to promote responsible waste management behaviours, with a focus on waste avoidance and recovery. It offers resources and support for schools to implement projects such as recycling, composting and worm farming. Many schools find these activities provide meaningful, hands-on learning experiences that are linked to the WA Curriculum. Waste Wise promote several great case studies on their website:
- Ardross Primary School canteen use reusable lunch order bags, rather than traditional paper bags. Whilst they still offer both, around 60% of students use the reusable bags
- Cornerstone Christian College admit “it’s taken a while to get high school students to do the right thing, but with a portion of the Waste Wise grant money the school now has colour coded bins located throughout the school to recycle paper and glass”.
- Goldfields schools – a number of schools collect scraps from the canteen for worm farms
- Plastic Free July is a key initiative of the Plastic Free Foundation. The website has some amazing resources for schools, including posters, success stories, social media images, videos and more
- The Star Choice Buyers Guide™ has a range of suppliers offering cardboard, bamboo, or ‘compostable plastics’ to meet your canteens packaging or cutlery needs. See the Product Database for all the information.