Media Releases | 2nd Dec, 2004

Australians want tough action to reduce waste blight: survey

Friday, 2 December 2004

Australians believe rubbish is a serious environmental problem and government needs to clamp down hard on retailers and the packaging industry that creates it, according to a Newspoll survey released today.

Results show 94% of all adult Australians think packaging waste and litter is a problem and 75% said we produced too much packaging.

Importantly, the survey revealed a majority of the population believes industry should be held most responsible for the problem of packaging waste – 77% nominated packaging manufacturers, 56% thought retailers.

Only a low 34% thought rate payers, who currently pay all costs to dispose of waste via kerbside recycling, should continue to pay.

Broken down by cities, 64% of Melburnians believed rubbish from product packaging was a major problem – more than any other city. Perth had the most residents (80%) who thought products had too much packaging. And Sydney was the city that thought packaging rubbish was increasing a lot compared to any other state capital (51%).

ACF Sustainability Campaigner Suzie Brown said: “Packaging is a blight on the landscape – it fills our waterways, parks and landfills. Australians are clearly sick of it.”

Environment Victoria’s Zero Waste Campaigner Jenny Henty added: “The community believes that for too long we’ve been cleaning up, picking up, and paying for other people’s waste. More than 91% of respondents think that governments should make those responsible for packaging waste deal with the mess – green groups fully agree.”

Total Environment Centre Campaigner Jane Castle said the pressures on kerbside recycling services were huge, costing rate payers a massive $294 million each year to fund. But, she said, the packaging industry audaciously suggested their own contribution should be just $3 million.

“Australians are good at recycling but research shows only 20% of our packaging waste is being recycled. It is the fault of brand-owners who continue to use non-recyclable packaging, and also it’s a lack of government leadership to ensure recycling and recyclability is the norm right across Australia. Those of us who put our recycling bin out each week should be angry that so much waste is slipping through the net,” said Ms Castle.

“Ministers need to be set tangible targets such as a minimum 80% packaging recovery rate and establish mechanisms to ensure greater industry responsibility for waste. This is vital to achieve any real environmental progress.”

The survey comes in advance of a meeting between State, Territory and Federal Environment Ministers to be held today in Melbourne that could be a serious setback for waste management in Australia. The survey was commissioned by Environment Victoria, the Australian Conservation Foundation, Total Environment Centre and a coalition of environment groups committed to eliminating packaging waste. The survey examined the views of a representative poll of three hundred adults residing in the five major capital cities across the country.