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Greens Senator for Tasmania, Peter Whish-Wilson and Greens Candidate for Pembroke, Alderman Bill Harvey are pushing for the establishment of a Marine Plastics Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) in Hobart to investigate and find solutions to the scourge of plastics in our ocean.

Senator Whish-Wilson said, “The ground-breaking Senate Inquiry into the threat of marine plastics, initiated by the Greens, received full cross party support for its important recommendations, including the urgent need to boost research funding into measuring, monitoring and mitigating the growing tide of toxic plastic pollution.

“This proposal to establish a Marine Plastics CRC is based on the comprehensive evidence uncovered during the inquiry.

“We are only just beginning to understand the impacts of plastic pollution on wildlife and especially on the human health as the plastics accumulate in the food chain. In the Senate Inquiry we heard that plastic in the ocean degrades into smaller and smaller pieces and gets taken up by plankton and shellfish, and then ultimately up through the food chain.

“We need to create an integrated science program that examines the sources and fate of plastic pollution, the environmental and human impacts, and investigates opportunities to address the issue.

“Given that plastic pollution is a global problem, a Marine Plastics CRC will build technologies and skills that we can export around the world. For instance, simply developing an alternative to plastic microbeads in cosmetics would be worth tens of millions a year. Other opportunities include developing a soft-drink bottle lid that doesn’t fall off.

“I want all political parties to back this proposal. I want industry to come out and back it too. This is an idea whose time has come and I’m not going to stop pushing for it until it becomes a reality.
The CRC would receive $5 million a year in base-funding from the Federal Government which would be matched by contributions from various state and local governments along with industry partners in the plastics and waste sector.

Greens Candidate for Pembroke, Alderman Bill Harvey said, “Tackling the problem of marine plastic pollution will be at the top of my agenda if the people of Tasmania choose to elect me to the Legislative Council. This project is going to require leadership on the ground and I will work to bring local stakeholders together.

“We envisage that Hobart would be the ideal place to base the CRC given the strengths of University of Tasmania in marine and environmental science. The CRC would employ a minimum of 70 staff to begin with, which would grow as the co-contributions of partners increased. The centre would be staffed by oceanographers, ecologists, toxicologists, policy experts, and designers and engineers.

“Establishing another science-based CRC in Hobart would really cement our place as a world leader in environmental science, “he concluded.