Hi, My name is Sydney Fowler and I am a Sophomore majoring in Packaging. I am from a small town in Michigan called Harrison Township. I enjoy being with my friends, running, traveling and boating. It has always been a dream of mine to visit Australia so I am very excited for this opportunity. I am eager to see how my major impacts different parts of the enviorment and hopefully I can learn a lot that I can take back and apply to my future career.
While I am in Australia I plan to research and take note of a few differences related to packaging in the United States verse Australia. As I am in stores across the country I plan to take note of the most common type of package they use, specifically in grocery stores to see if they too use a lot of plastic. Amcor is the top packaging company in the United states but also in Australia. Amcor produces lots of plastic and flexible packaging so it makes me curious if Australia has a lot of plastic like the United States. I also discovered that the packaging in Australia for cigarettes is much different from here. I plan to talk to some locals if they think the cigarette package affects there want to buy them. In the US, we sell 1 million an hour and they sell 66,000 an hour so I am curious to see if packaging has anything to do with it because this could be a helpful tactic in decreasing the use of cigarettes in other places around the world. Lastly, while abroad I want to pay attention to the use of plastic bags in stores since this is becoming popular in the United States. Two large supermarket chains in Australia have banned plastic bags but they are not banned everywhere so when we visit small towns I want to see if they are still using plastic bags in stores or if they choose to stop using them as well. There is a lot of cool aspects to packaging and I am very eager to get a chance to see how this country uses packaging differently from in the US.
Once we arrived in Australia I decided to shift my focus to solely plastic pollution and how they are addressing the problem. The world uses 300 trillion tons of plastic per year plastic per year and only 9% gets recycled. Plastic waste has become a top controversy nationwide that I felt focusing on it while abroad would lead me to many findings. Plastic is used a lot for the packaging of so many items because it protects products very well, but the world is not disposing of it properly. During the month, I was able to find a handful of alternatives to plastic packaging as well as smarter ways Australia has been decreasing use of it. The country had already banned the use of plastic bags which made me believe they would have other initiatives in place. While on site visits and exploring towns throughout the month I was pleased to learn that my prediction held true.
One change I saw often was the introduction of biodegradable plastic. Biodegradable plastic means it is made from a plant instead of oil. I saw this alternative used for utensils and cups. I also saw almost everywhere we went paper straws being used. At Jaques Coffee Plantation they created a product called Bio Cups which are compostable coffee capsules. Mungali Farm and Bulla Diary also said they had plans to switch their food packaging to a biodegradable plastic. The next site visit where I saw a change was at the Melbourne Wholesale Market where a farmer is turning to packages that can be reused after.He showed us a tomato container that looked like a pale a kid would use to play at the beach. Ceres Environmental Park also touched on this idea by having bins in their store where you could leave used containers for them to reuse in another way.
At the Melbourne Market I learned that they are a plastic bag free vendor and that they were looking at implementing cloth bags. Plastic bags were banned from the stores and when we went to the grocery stores you had to pay if you needed a plastic bag. I think this is a great way to encourage people to make the change over to reusable bags. Another place I saw how Australians were working to change the minds of people was at the Adelaide City Council. They are using their festivals, where many people will come, to promote the decrease use of single- use plastics and how to make more sustainable decisions. In almost every city I also noticed how much they encourage the use of reusable cups and metal straws. Every cafe I went into I saw them at the counter for purchase. Another place I saw the government helping to promote change was on The Great Barrier Reef boat. I saw a sign that gave quick tips on how to stop plastic from getting into the waters. I think this is very helpful for people who don’t fully know how to help, but want too.
In the end, Australia had lots of great changes happening all over the country to decrease their plastic waste. The government has also set a goal that states by 2025 all plastic packaging will be recyclable, reusable or biodegradable. This shows how eager they are to make changes and protect their beautiful country. I think that the United States can make changes too if we learn to change our habits. Just turning to reusable coffee cups, using metal straws, and not using plastic bags will help make a change and keep our earth from continuing to be polluted with plastic waste.
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