Media release: Tuesday, 16 May 2023 – In a significant move toward preventing commercial agricultural plastic waste entering our environment, Australia’s leading environmental markets project developer, GreenCollar, today announced Australia’s first ever verified plastic credits are available for sale from a project in Far North Queensland.
GreenCollar’s pilot plastic project, conducted in partnership with MAMS Group and the Australian Banana Growers Council, has successfully completed the Plastic Waste Reduction Standard third party audit process and has been issued Plastic Credits. The Standard, launched in February 2021 to help tackle global plastic waste, is part of the 3R Initiative co-created by Verra, the world’s leading secretariat of environmental standards. This is the second project to be registered worldwide.
GreenCollar’s CEO, James Schultz, said: “By participating in a verified market to remove plastic waste from the environment, we are laying strong foundations for a sustainable future and a robust circular economy. GreenCollar was fundamental in setting up the Carbon and Reef Credits markets domestically, and we’re very proud to now help pioneer the global plastic mitigation market which provides the foundation to incentivise business to remove plastic waste from their supply chain.”
For the project, which is an Australian first, GreenCollar has been working with waste management and recycling company, MAMS Group to collect plastic banana bunch bags from commercial banana growing farms on the Cassowary Coast area and surrounds. Banana bunch bags are thin, often single-use protective covers, used to shelter and protect ripening fruit. The first set of credits represents 32 metric tonnes of these HDPE and LDPE plastic bags collected from farms, rather than left in the environment.
A single plastic credit is awarded for every tonne of plastic that is recovered and removed from the environment or remanufactured into a product.
In Australia, 95 percent of all bananas are grown in far north Queensland. It is estimated that 1,500 tonnes of plastic waste is generated on these farms every year through the use of banana bunch bags. The cost of waste management in the region means many bags end up in the local environment and Great Barrier Reef.
GreenCollar General Manager, Anjali Nelson, said, “Plastic Credits help address this issue by incentivising and scaling up investment in waste collection and recycling infrastructure. In order to help close the loop on the use of these sorts of plastics in far north Queensland, GreenCollar has been actively working with recycling organisations with a view to establishing local recycling facilities.”
The project plans to work with local recycling organisations in the far north, which will not only reduce transport costs and emissions, but will help build a circular economy for plastics in the area.
Louise Lannen, Business Manager at MAMS Group, said: “As a family-run business that has been operating in this region for over 30 years, supporting local farmers is essential to what we do. We’re proud to help establish a new market which will in turn drive improved recycling infrastructure in the far north.”
GreenCollar has also established pilot plastic waste recovery and recycling projects in Africa and the South Pacific, targeting regions that currently lack suitable recycling infrastructure. These projects are expected to begin the audit process in 2023. Verra approved the issuance of its first plastic credits to a project in Thailand in March.
Rosie Godwin, Research and Development Manager at Australian Banana Growers Council, said: “It is fantastic to be involved with this world-leading initiative that aligns so wholly with our values, by making a tangible and positive difference to the environment and our farmers. Environmental stewardship is an integral component of what we do and we’re proud to play our part in combating the global plastic crisis.”
Jacintha Sambo, Farm Manager at Dotti Farms Innisfail, said: “Plastic waste is an unavoidable consequence of current commercial Banana farming practice. Till now, the industry hasn’t had an avenue to sustainably remove this material. The plastic project with MAMS and GreenCollar is a no brainer. It makes business sense and has a positive impact on the environment.”
Without significant change, there could be more plastic than fish in the oceans by 2050, according to research produced by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the World Economic Forum. At the same time, by 2025, under the New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, businesses that account for one fifth of all plastic packaging globally are projected to have reduced plastic production by almost 20 percent (or 8 million tonnes) from 2018 levels. However, the voluntary status of the Commitment, means the remaining four fifths of the world’s plastic packaging producers remain unaccountable for reduction.
“There are many exciting community-driven initiatives and technological innovations around the world looking to address the global plastic waste problem,” Anjali Nelson said.” Plastic credits can provide the financing needed to drive innovation at scale whilst supporting local economies.”