Riding a wave of renewed interest and enthusiasm in the public, the Boomerang Alliance hosted the inaugural Beyond Plastics Pollution conference last week in Sydney (30th – 1st Oct 2017). The conference played host to researches, activists, academics, governments and ministers, waste experts and manufactures of plastic products in a melting pot of ideas, opinions and thought leadership. Central to the conference was building awareness of the issue and also the practical steps we can take to achieve lasting change in this space.
Presentations from the Pacific Region Infrastructure Facility’s (PRIF) highlighted the work to be done work modelling the economics of waste collection from island nations, while others demonstrated the folly of single use items, and, argued persuasively against their use by retailers. Drawing extensive industry representation, the Plasticity conference was co-hosted at the event and drew a broad array of industry experts and market influencers to discuss the real-time opportunities to reduce plastic waste and also present the latest in polymer research. Edge’s Blake Lindley spoke on application of extended producer responsibility to plastic pollution and with particular reference to coffee cups.
It was refreshing to see the passion and activity with which local community and activist groups are pursuing the issue of plastic pollution – and certainly provided the motivation to refocus our attention to address its challenges. If nothing else, the conference highlighted one thing, plastics and our behaviours associated with their use is a wicked problem, and one that effects a broad cross-section of society, a broad cross-section that all need to be involved in delivering an effective solution.
The representation of government was equally encouraging, which (despite some notable absences and last minute withdrawals) fronted up to the issue at hand for the most part, and took the chance to receive feedback on existing policy, and, consider alternatives for the future.