South Australia has had a scheme running well since 1977 with an 80.4% recycle rate (EPA data). Legislation for a national scheme is stalled in Parliament - lets give it a nudge along.
• Animal cruelty - plastics are killing large numbers of birds and marine mammals. An agonising death
• Greenhouse – recycle the vast amounts of energy used to make aluminium
• Toxicity to food chain – heavy metals and other pollutants accumulate on tiny plastic particles and enter the food chain and end up in us.
Check out the science on this video article from the ABC science show Catalyst
Update: Video now archived see episode 16 at http://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/vodcast/2012.htm
Selected quotes below from the Catalyst programme transcript:
These are all of the pieces of plastic taken from that bird's stomach three days ago. It represents about five to eight percent of the bird's body weight. That's the equivalent of me carrying around three to five kilograms of plastic in my stomach.
Dr Jennifer Lavers
They have what I call the invisible toxic effect. It's less easy to detect but equally as scary.
The plastic itself inherently contains a wide array of chemicals that are used during the manufacturing and processing. When the plastic is put out into the marine environment and it floats around in the ocean for let's say ten or forty years it really does last forever, it basically acts like a little magnet or a sponge and it takes all the contaminants that are out there in the ocean environment that are really diluted in the ocean water and it concentrates it up, onto the surface.
Plastic itself has up to a thousand times a higher concentration of contaminants on its surface than the surrounding seawater from which it came. And when the animal, whether it's a turtle or a seabird takes that into their body those contaminants leach out into the blood stream and is incorporated into the tissues.
Dr Britta Denise Hardesty
Observationally we do not find full plastic bottles or cans or glass bottles in, in South Australia and I would likely attribute that to the container deposit scheme that they have there. The waste that's associated with the beverage industry comprises about a third and some estimates are as high as a half of the marine debris that we find globally. So that's bottles and cans and straws and disposal coffee cups - why not bring your ''to go'' cup with you, instead?