At q4, we are dedicated to doing what we can to improve our community and world through our Giving Program. For our next initiative in the program, we are focusing our efforts on improving our environment by supporting an iconic Australian organisation, Take 3 for the Sea.
Take 3 for the Sea is an award-winning Australian charity on a mission to rid the oceans of plastic pollution. They have a vision to conserve the environment and protect wildlife from the negative effects caused by plastic pollution and waste. Take 3 inspires and leads a movement of people connected to the planet. Take 3 encourages participation and inspires others to take simple actions that reduce the impacts of plastic pollution and waste in the ocean and broader environment.*
Why bother taking on plastic pollution?
Unfortunately, plastic pollution is plaguing our planet from the highest mountain to the deepest ocean. This widespread pollution is attributed to the fact that the key benefits of plastic – extremely inexpensive, versatile, and indestructible – are also what makes it so detrimental to our planet.
The versatility and cheap cost of plastic makes it much easier for our economic systems to use and distribute plastic which is why it is now everywhere. The indestructible nature of plastic material means that it doesn’t biodegrade. It simply breaks down into smaller and smaller pieces known as microplastics and nanoplastics. These then transfer toxic chemicals, metals and micropollutants into marine food chains, and ultimately into our food chain.
Furthermore, this indestructible composition means that plastic it is not economically viable to recycle many plastics. Plastics are physically made from long chains of polymers. When these long-chain polymers are heated or reprocessed, they degrade. This means that a plastic bottle cannot be made from a plastic bottle in the same way glass or aluminium can be infinitely recycled. Plastic material degrades and is only downcycled, not recycled, into a lesser form of plastic.
Costs associated with taking on plastic pollution
The problem of plastic pollution and waste extends beyond being environmentally detrimental. There are high, often ignored, costs relating to the manufacturing, consumption and disposal of plastic.
Simply managing and dealing with waste that does make it into the proper disposal system is expensive. It is estimated that our local Governments spend $3.5 billion annually on waste management efforts.**
In an in-depth analysis and report released by the World Wildlife Foundation, it is estimated that the cost of the damage plastic pollution has caused to the Australian economy and to Australia’s wildlife in just one year (2019), is around AU$17 billion dollars.*** This includes the cost of virgin plastic production as well as greenhouse gas emissions, waste management costs and damage to marine ecosystems.
Unfortunately, it is the communities and taxpayers that pay for these costs. Figure 1 shows just how these costs are distributed through the lifecycle of plastic.
How to start taking on plastic pollution
Even though there are a lot of complexities to the plastic crisis and the scale of the problem requires change on a global scale, we as consumers, are still part of that system. We can play a part in changing it.
- Starting at the beginning of the plastic lifecycle we can collectively reduce how much new plastic is entering the system by simply saying no to plastic whenever possible!
- For plastic already in our system, we can further reduce the need for more by focusing on reusables. Together we can reuse what we have rather than buy new.
- And for plastic that has lost its way to the proper disposal site, we can Take 3 for the Sea! Picking up plastic litter to keep it out of the environment.
With countless reasons why plastic is harmful to our planet, wildlife and human health and wellbeing, the q4 team is taking steps to do our part.
Starting on Earth Day, 22 April, our office will be:
- Learning more about the issue and single-use plastic waste
- Refusing and reducing single-use plastic instead of relying on recycling
- Taking small steps like BYO containers to reduce our office’s waste
- Sharing information, tips, and actions with you!
We will also be helping to grow awareness of the issue.
The q4 Giving Team is pleased to be hosting an expert speaker from Take 3 for the Sea in a free lunch presentation. This event is being co-hosted with the 300 Adelaide building engagement team.
You can RSVP to join the lunch and learn more here.