Brisbane forum on city development: calls for actions against plastic
The 2019 Asia Pacific Cities Summit and Mayors' Forum has wrapped up in the Australian city of Brisbane. Governments and representatives from companies across the Asia Pacific region gathered there to discuss municipal development, including the problem of waste management.
At the four-day event this week, 13-year-old Arlian Ecker shared with the audience his experience trying to get other young people thinking about the problem of plastic waste.
The 2019 Asia Pacific Cities Summit and Mayors' Forum was held in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, from 7 to 10 July, 2019. [Photo: China Plus]
"So when I was telling kids that I want to make a film about sea turtles dying from plastic, a kid came up to me and asked me: why do you want to save the animals? They are just stupid for eating these plastics. At that second, I thought what can I say to make people care. Shortly after, I found that a study came out from the Australian University of Newcastle showing that each person eat one credit card of plastics every single day. Plastic exposure harms our immune and reproductive system, the liver, the kidney and even causes cancer."
Ecker, who's known online as Plastic Free Boy, is from Byron Bay in New South Wales. Growing up in a coastal city, he witnessed the impact of plastic pollution to marine life. So he and his mother started to go around the city to raise awareness of young people about this issue.
He's one of many young people in Australia urging the public to take actions against plastic pollution.
Australia is blessed with beautiful beaches and diverse marine life. At the same time, its consumption of plastic is alarming. Australians used 3.5 million tonnes of plastic between 2016 and 2017, and less than 12 percent of it was recycled. The majority of the plastic waste was shipped overseas. But with countries like China and Indonesia starting to turn down imports of waste, the country has to figure out how to deal with this massive and growing problem.
Anna Reynolds is the mayor of Hobart in Tasmania. At the forum, she said that her city is phasing out single-use plastics by next year.
"Something very exciting that is happening in Hobart is we are introducing a by-law for our city to ban single-use plastic containers from our city businesses. So in one-year time, they will need to move to completely compostable containers. If this coffee container is plastic, the companies, all the coffee shops will need to use compostable cups."
Meanwhile, some other people are finding way to bring more plastic into the circular economy. One of them is Mark Combe, whose company is recycling industrial plastic waste. The waste is turned into reinforcement material for roads.
"We take plastic waste and convert it to concrete reinforcing fibers called micro plastic fibres, which replaces your normal shrinkage mesh or reinforcement bar. (It will achieve) a 90 percent reduction in CO2 (and lower costs by) 3 to 5 percent. And you get double production in a day."
Combe said that about 50 city councils in Australia are now using this material for sidewalks and driveways.
Adrian Schrinner, who is the mayor of Brisbane, is calling for everyone to get involved in the battle against plastic waste.
"One of the things is really important to know. Governments can do all type of things. We can sell all type of things. But in the end, sustainability happens in households and in business."