Single-use plastics are on their way out in every Australian state and territory due to the implementation of nationally comparable regulations.
On November 1, New South Wales will prohibit the public sale of plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, and cotton buds, and other jurisdictions will follow suit at their own speed.
Additionally, plastic food packaging and microbeads in personal care goods would be prohibited in New South Wales.
Since June, lightweight plastic bags have been prohibited.
Businesses that sell prohibited commodities face fines of up to $55,000, and deliberate disregard of the law can result in fines of up to $275,000
The decision to adopt a national set of policies for single-use plastics was made during the week at a conference of environment ministers.
Next year, Queensland will extend its ban on single-use plastic straws and cups to include cotton swabs.
Victoria aims to adopt a ban similar to that of New South Wales in February 2019, with other states vowing to follow suit at differing rates.
National retail associations have called for uniformity in plastic use across the nation.
Paul Zahra, the chief executive officer of the Australian Retailers Association, stated that it was especially difficult for smaller retailers to comply with varying regulations.
“The difficulty is that different goods are being phased out around the country at different periods,” he told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Many single-use plastics have already been taken from the shelves of major supermarkets such as Coles, Woolworths, and Aldi.
National regulations, according to the Department of Environment, will be “great for the environment and will make life easier for businesses, particularly those with a national footprint.”
Those who require plastic straws for medical, scientific, or forensic purposes will be exempt from the prohibition, and they will still be available for purchase online and in pharmacies.
Paper plates and bowls lined with plastic will have two years to find alternatives.
The government of New South Wales projects that the ban will reduce litter by 2.7 billion pieces.
A major worry with single-use plastics is that they shed microscopic particles of so-called microplastics, which are so prevalent that they have been discovered on the summit of Mount Everest, in the snow of the Antarctic, and in fish in particular.
Italian researchers issued a warning last week about the presence of microplastics in human breast milk and advised pregnant women to avoid consuming food, beverages, face cream, and even toothpaste packaged in plastic.
Microplastics have been detected in the lungs, brains, and blood of both living and deceased humans.
They have been linked to the development of cancer, cardiovascular disease, dementia, and fertility issues.
However, leading British toxicologists stated that the panic may be exaggerated and that the research was unreliable.
Professor Richard Lampitt, a microplastics expert at the National Oceanography Centre, told The Mail on Sunday that many researchers employ scare tactics.
Michael Shellenberger, a ‘rogue’ environmentalist, stated during the Sydney right-wing CPAC gathering in September that the majority of plastic garbage in the environment was the product of ‘pretending’ to recycle it.
Mr. Shellenberger stated, “(We) pretend to recycle plastic waste, ship it to poor countries without waste disposal systems, and it ends up in the oceans.”
Mr. Shellenberger advocated for the burning of plastic waste.
“The solution to plastic waste, and I know this is shocking to hear, is to dispose of it in landfills or burn it,” he said.
Please stop recycling your plastic debris that ends up in the oceans and dispose of it in the garbage.
WHAT EFFECTS COULD MICROPLASTICS HAVE ON THE HUMAN BODY IF THEY WERE INGESTED?
According to a paper published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, our understanding of the possible consequences of microplastic exposure on human health “represents significant knowledge gaps.”
Plastic particles can enter the human body through the eating of marine and terrestrial foods, drinking water, and the air.
However, the degree of human exposure, chronic toxic impact concentrations, and underlying processes by which microplastics induce effects are not yet sufficiently understood to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment for people.
According to Rachel Adams, a senior lecturer in Biomedical Science at Cardiff Metropolitan University, ingestion of microplastics may result in a variety of potentially hazardous impacts, including:
Inflammation: white blood cells and the compounds they make protect us from infection when inflammation occurs. This generally protective immune system is capable of causing tissue harm.
Immunological response to whatever the body recognizes as ‘foreign’; immune responses of this type can cause harm to the body.
Microplastics generally repel water and will bind to toxins that do not dissolve, so they can bind to compounds containing toxic metals such as mercury, and organic pollutants such as certain pesticides and chemicals called dioxins, which are known to cause cancer, as well as reproductive and developmental issues. Toxins can build in fatty tissues if microplastics penetrate the human body.
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