Wollongong Might Become Australia’s First Plastic-Free City

The coastal city hopes to reduce it plastic bag usage by 70% in the next two years.

Wollongong, located on NSW’s South Coast is rallying to end singular- use plastic bags city-wide. A community group known as ‘Plastic Free Wollongong’ has partnered with local council to educate businesses and event organisers about the repercussion of plastic and how to be more eco-friendly.

“We want to go to businesses and show them … there are easy alternatives,” surfer and PFW member Andrew Gray told SBS News.

“It’s about creating platforms for those businesses who are willing to make the change to be promoted, and people should go to these businesses as preferred alternatives because they’re making the extra effort to preserve our environment. They deserve your dollar.”

Group member Andrew Gray joined Plastic Free Wollongong when he went out for a surf one day and realised just how polluted the popular beach was.

“I’m a surfer, so I see plastic probably more than a lot of people. I’m down at the beach picking up rubbish,” he said explained to SBS.

“It is really concerning … there’s so many cafes and businesses that use single-use plastics. If they’re disposed of incorrectly or littered, it goes into our beautiful oceans.”

Local businesses have begun rallying behind the group, with beachside café Earth Walker rejecting all plastic products, making the switch to paper and metal straws and cardboard takeaway containers.

The café received the first Ocean friendly accreditation from the organisation Surfrider, who has only approved 150 restaurants in Hawaii.

If more local businesses adopt this rule, Wollongong is well on its way to achieving its goal.

Lead image: Aerial view of Wollongong beach, Olga Kashubin

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