Zero tolerance legislation for trash going to our oceans

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There is one very immediate issue facing our waterways: 80% of ocean pollution comes from land based sources and it flows through drains to our waterways via urban stormwater runoff. The technology and services already exist to prevent this flow of pollution to the sea but existing legislation doesn’t make it enforceable, meaning stormwater systems in Australia are ineffective because they are typically not appropriately maintained - and there are insufficient numbers of them to start with.

For too long, we have been using the ocean as our dumping ground. With the ocean providing between 50 to 85 per cent of the oxygen we breathe, and as a major source of food for the world’s population, there is an urgent need for action.

The facts:

  • Each year, at least eight million tonnes of plastics flow into the ocean - which is equivalent to dumping the contents of one garbage truck into the ocean every minute. If no action is taken, this is expected to increase to two per minute by 2030 and four per minute by 2050
  • Approximately 1,580 kilograms of plastic enters Australia's oceans each hour
  • Stormwater is recognised as the key source of pollution in our urban waterways and the vast majority of marine debris entering Australian waters is land-based and generated locally,
  • A recent national survey found that the number one concern for Australians when it comes to population growth is marine and waterway health - rated higher than traffic congestion, competition for jobs and housing density

The scourge of ocean plastic pollution is exacerbated by a combination of factors, including domestic plastic usage (particularly single use plastic items), insufficient waste management practices and the fact that stormwater runoff from the vast majority of urban areas receives zero stormwater treatment to remove pollutants including plastics. Where stormwater treatment assets are present, they seldom receive appropriate maintenance meaning captured pollution isn’t removed - making them completely ineffective.

We are calling on the Federal Government to:

  • Establish targets to prevent all ‘trash’ (pollutants greater than 5mm in diameter) from any urbanised areas discharging to any waterway within Australia by 2040
  • Increase funding for community awareness and education programs in schools and communities in relation to the threat to marine ecosystems from plastic pollution, key sources of pollution, and source reduction strategies
  • Set nation-wide stormwater management targets for new developments above a threshold size, such as six dwellings or more, and mandate these for new development across all states and territories
  • Create mandatory management of existing and new stormwater treatment assets (both private and publicly owned) by 2021
  • Install stormwater treatment assets to provide appropriate treatment to all urbanised areas within Australia by 2040

We are asking you to petition for a zero tolerance for trash to oceans. Please, help us protect our oceans.