The launch of our Plastic Bag Free Byron pledge!

Byron Bay, 14 November, 2016 – We are excited to invite tourists, as well as members of the Byron Bay community to join the global environmental movement and pledge to go plastic bag-free starting on the 16th of November.

Single-use plastic bags are responsible for unsightly litter on our streets, sidewalks and beaches. With the assistance of wind and rain, litter can easily end up polluting fragile underwater ecosystems, like that of the Cape Byron Marine Park just off shore, affecting turtles, resident dolphins, migrating whales and critically endangered grey nurse sharks.

According to a 2016 report on marine litter from the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) more than 9 million tonnes of plastic alone end up in the world’s oceans every year! Many cities and countries around the world have recognised the negative environmental impacts of plastic and have made headway introducing bans or levies on plastic bags in their communities. Despite this, only a handful of Australian states and towns have taken action, with NSW lagging behind. It's our hope that the residents of Byron Bay will embrace this pledge to go plastic bag-free and become leaders in sustainability at the state and national level.

“A plastic bag-free Byron is important to me because I care about our community and the environment we share,” says local business owner, Therese Toohey. “People from all over the world pass through Byron Bay, I feel we should set an example to our locals and to travellers visiting the area.”

We are being supported by the Boomerang Alliance to further promote the pledge and long-term solutions to plastics as part of their Marine Plastic Pollution Campaign. Later this week the Alliance will host several community events with our involvement where they will share ideas for plastic-free approaches and business strategies with concerned community members, local council and other community groups.

Dave West, the National Policy Director for Boomerang Alliance will be leading many of the events this coming Friday to Monday throughout the Shire.

“Boomerang Alliance are keen to work with local business, council and community groups to establish a strategy to drastically cut the amount of plastic waste - delivering not only environmental benefits but also creating local business opportunities, new jobs and, long term, a reduction in the cost of waste, recycling and litter management faced by council and ratepayers,” Mr. West said.

Maddy-Rose Braddon is a volunteer for Positive Change For Marine Life who runs fortnightly beach cleans and marine litter surveys in Byron Bay. She encourages other community members to reflect on the small, individual actions they can take in their own lives:

“Through our fortnightly beach clean-ups one of the main items we continue to find are plastic bag remnants, cigarette butts, and other single-use plastic items. Plastic dominates our clean-ups,” Ms. Braddon said. “While it is great that we have the opportunity to remove this trash from our beaches, it would be much better to see people take more ownership of how they consume. Taking our pledge to go plastic bag-free is a great way to start.”

Byron Bay residents interested in pledging their support for a shire free of plastic bag pollution can do so here. The organisation also invites locals and visitors to join their fortnightly beach clean-ups, the next of which will take place at Main Beach this Sunday at 8:30 a.m.

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Contact: Erika Delemarre, Media Coordinator for Positive Change For Marine Life: e.delemarre@pcfml.org.au