Currently I am taking an Environmental Economics course at UNSW to help complete my Economics minor. However, throughout the duration of the course and through my time living in Australia, I have become more informed about Australia’s environmental policies. One of the most visible environmental efforts made by the Australian government is the phase-out of light-weight plastic bags. During my first trip to the grocery store, I was astonished at the fact the grocery store did not provide any bags for me to carry my grocery items home. I instead had to purchase re-usable bags to bring my goods home. In my environmental economics course, my professor discussed the light-weight plastic phase-out initiative. Every state and territory in Australia, except New South Wales, has out-right banned companies from providing customers with light-weight plastic bags at checkout. Though New South Wales does not participate in the light-weight plastic ban phase- out, the two largest super market chains, Woolsworth and Coles, have taken it upon themselves to enact the no-plastic bag policy. These two grocery store companies show their strong dedication towards corporate responsibility by being fore-runners in the push for environmental protection within New South Wales. This plastic bag initiative heavily contrasts with the United States, where plastics bags are handed out freely to customers.
Another environmental initiative present in most of the states in Australia is the container deposit legislation. This legislation is very similar to the bottle returns policy certain states offer in the United States. The Australian container deposit legislation is relatively new for New South Wales (the state I live in), due to the fact they adopted the legislation in 2017. The legislation states that at the point of sale, a deposit is taken for certain bottles/cans and then consumers can return these drink containers to a collection location for a 10-cent refund. There is even a collection container on-campus at UNSW. Many primary and secondary schools in Australia ask their students to collect the bottles and bring them into school, so the school can return the bottles and use the refunds to fund school programs.
Though Australia, like many countries, has regulations for vehicles emissions, anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, and pollution, the final environmental initiative that I have dealt with in my day-today interactions is the reusable coffee cup movement. Large coffee chains, including McDonalds and Starbucks, offer customers with reusable coffee cups a 50-cent discount on the price of coffee. Also, an environmental group, called “Sustainable Cafes” has convinced over 4,000 local cafes to follow suit. Their website allows you to look up cafes in your area and find out which participate in the discount for reusable cups. There are many coffee shops on campus which participate in the reusable cup discount.
It is truly inspiring to see such a dedication to preserving the natural environment in Australia, and I hope that the United States will follow suit by implementing some of the policies such as the light-weight plastic bag ban.
(Sources: NSW Return and Earn and Sustainable Cafes)
Student, UConn School of Business
Hello UConn! My name is Victoria Myers and I am a junior accounting major with a minor in economics. In my free time, I play on UConn’s club field hockey team, volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters, and I am also a member of the UConn Consulting Group. A fun fact about myself is that I was born on Halloween; however, ironically, I am terrified of horror movies and the scary aspects of Halloween. View Posts