Diving against Debris ahead of plastic ban

With just over a week until NSW bans more single-use plastics, Minister for Environment James Griffin has joined dozens of citizen science scuba divers and snorkelers in a community effort to clean up Sydney Harbour and highlight exactly why the bans are needed.

After donning a wetsuit and snorkeling gear to collect plastic litter from Sydney Harbour, Minister for Environment James Griffin said the ban on single-use plastics is just the beginning of a massive shift away from single-use plastics in NSW.

“In June, we banned lightweight single-use plastic bags and from 1 November, we’re banning some of the most commonly littered single-use plastic items, including cutlery, plates, bowls, straws, and polystyrene food ware,” Mr Griffin said.

“About 95 per cent of the litter on beaches and waterways comes from suburban streets, and single-use plastic items and packaging make up two thirds of all litter in NSW.

“We know from Australian Microplastic Assessment Project (AUSMAP) data that Manly Cove is among the worst beaches in the country for microplastic pollution, with research finding more than 850 pieces of microplastic per square metre.

“This is exactly why we must end our reliance on single-use plastic, and why the NSW bans are critical for changing behavior and improving the state of our environment for the benefit of biodiversity and future generations.”

The Dive Against Debris event at Manly Cove saw dozens of concerned citizens don scuba gear and snorkels before heading below the surface to collect plastic waste and debris from Sydney Harbour.

Dive Against Debris was founded in 1995 by Dive Centre Manly’s Richard Nicholls and has grown into the world’s largest Citizen Science marine project.

Now thousands of PADI dive centres regularly conduct underwater plastic clean-ups across the globe, with an estimated 250,000 divers worldwide gathering important data about the scope of the plastic pollution problem.

“Sydney Harbour is choking on plastic so it’s absolutely fantastic that the NSW Government is banning many single-use plastics,” Mr Nicholls said.

“Marine mammals and fish are dying through plastic ingestion and entanglement, and items are breaking down into microplastics that end up in the human food chain. It’s shocking and we have to stop it.”

From 1 November, the NSW Government is banning single-use items including:

  • plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, chopsticks, plates, bowls and cotton buds
  • food ware and cups made from expanded polystyrene
  • rinse-off personal care products containing plastic microbeads.

This comes after lightweight single-use plastic bags were banned from 1 June.

The NSW Government bans will prevent almost 2.7 billion items of plastic litter from entering the environment in the State over the next 20 years.

Since February, the National Retail Association (NRA) has, on behalf of the NSW Government, been providing education and support to more than 40,000 businesses and community organisations around the State to implement the changes.

Educational material and in-person advice has also been provided in more than 15 different languages to support business owners and communities with diverse backgrounds.

The NSW Government has partnered with Great Plastic Rescue to collect excess stock from wholesalers, distributors, retailers, businesses and not-for-profits for recycling and remanufacturing into new items.

In September, the NSW Government launched the Stop it and Swap it advertising campaign, featuring shocking images of plastic pollution in the ocean and a turtle choking on a plastic bag, as an important reminder about why the state is banning certain single-use plastics.

For more information about the NSW Government’s single use plastic bans, visit http://www.dpie.nsw.gov.au/plastics-ban

The single-use plastic ban media kit is available here