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Oyster Farmers Tackle Waste in Nambucca River

Oyster Farmers Tackle Waste in Nambucca River

On Tuesday 22nd February, local oyster farmers will descend onto the foreshore of the Nambucca River on Gumbaynggirr Country for the mass industry led clean-up event “Tide to Tip”. This is the third year of the event, which is organised by OceanWatch Australia, that sees oyster growers lead marine debris clean-ups in estuaries across the state.

Figure 1. Camden Haven oyster farmers at the “Tide to Tip” clean up in 2020.

Oyster farming in the Nambucca River supplies beautiful native Sydney Rock Oysters to hungry shellfish lovers. With 7 oyster farms perched on the banks of the river, the industry generates hundreds of jobs and is an important part of the local economy.

Out on the water every day, oyster farmers have an intimate knowledge of their local environment, and regularly collect rubbish they find floating in the estuary. Tide to Tip not only provides a way for fishers and farmers to give back to the estuaries on which their livelihoods depend but helps to ensure Australian waterways remain pristine and healthy for generations to come.

Figure 2. Nambucca oyster farmers Nicolas and Delphine Tessier.

Local oyster farmers Delphine and Nicolas Tessier from the Nambucca Oyster Company said:

“Oyster farmers see first-hand the condition of Nambucca every day. Some years are rougher than others with storms and flooding impacting the river. Our farmers are always on the water collecting debris as we go, as we depend on a healthy river for our businesses. Tide to Tip is an opportunity to bring loads of trash out of the environment, get the community involved and bring awareness to river health across NSW and Australia”.

This annual clean-up event known as “Tide to Tip” involves 20 other estuaries from across NSW, WA and QLD. Not only will oyster farmers clean-up the area, participants will also sort, curate and count the collected rubbish. A summary of the waste will be documented and analysed by the Australian Marine Debris Database – a program run by Tangaroa Blue Foundation.

Figure 3. Result of previous years “Tide to Tip” clean up in Camden Haven.

Since it began in 2020, the “Tide to Tip” clean-up has involved over 250 Oyster Farmers from 19 oyster growing regions of NSW and QLD. Together with the help of community groups 22.5 tonnes of waste has been removed from our estuaries. Partners include NSW Department of Primary Industries, South East and Hunter Local Land Services, Clean-up Australia, Shapes in the Sand, and OceanWatch Australia.

The clean-ups are supported by the Local Landcare Coordinator Initiative, which is funded by the NSW Government, and supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.

History of Plastic Pollution: Solving the Pollution Problem

History of Plastic Pollution: Solving the Pollution Problem

History of Plastic Pollution

How we’re Solving the Problem


Humans have been polluting our earth since the beginning of the 19th century, however, it wasn’t until the late 1960’s when we released we actually had a problem. Plastic Collective and other world non government operations, global leaders and companies banded together to put an end to global plastic pollution. Developing initiates and standards, to remove unnecessary plastic in production, mitigate plastic leakage and recover discarded plastics. This is the history of plastic pollution and how were solving the problem:

Earth Summit

Sustainable Development Goals


In 1992, the United Nations held an important  and groundbreaking conference in Rio de Janeiro,  Brazil, called the Earth Summit. This was a UN  Conference on Environment and Development  (UNCED) established to provide comprehensive  non-binding action plans for 178 governments  and organisations to achieve global sustainable  development by 2000 (21st century).

This was called Agenda 21, where the: ‘Integration  of environment and development concerns and  greater attention to them will lead to the fulfilment of  basic needs, improved living standards for all, better  protected and managed ecosystems and a safer, more  pros-perous future’.

Following the Earth Summit, another global summit  in 2000, world leaders came together in New York  to set out 8 targets to reduce extreme poverty and  improve living conditions and opportunities for  millions of people by 2015, these were called the  Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDGs provided a blueprint for governments  and organisations to reduce extreme poverty. One  of the key achievements from 1990’s was lifting  1 billion people out of poverty, reducing child  mortality by more than half, and doubling the number  of children getting an education.  The MDGs represented a great shift in ending  hunger, equality, health and education, however  much more effort was required, particularly in  protecting environments, addressing climate  change and other global sustainable goals.

The Worlds Gyres

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch


In 1997, Captain Charles Moore discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (GPGP); a 1.6 million km2 area of ocean where plastic waste has accumulated between Hawaii and California. This event highlighted how significant the world’s plastic pollution problem was and left everyone wondering “but how did our plastic waste form a floating garbage patch?”

Plastic waste gathers in the world’s oceans through downstream currents from nearly every terrestrial location. Collecting and concentrating in the midst of global ocean currents called gyres; breaking down into small fragments known as micro plastics, being ingested by marine species and sinking into the deep-sea. The great pacific garbage patch is one particular gyre located in the Pacific Ocean between Hawaii and California. The great pacific garbage patch is known for the detrimental impacts of plastics to seabirds nesting on nearby islands and to the surrounding marine animals. In 2011, Marcus Erikson, from 5 Gyres Institute discovered the Southern Ocean Gyre. A total of 5 patches of ocean trash have now been identified.

World Economic Forum 

Sustainable Development Goals


In 2012 the United Nations held a Sustainable Development conference, again in Rio de Janeiro  (20 years since Earth Summit) to address the urgent  environmental, political and economic challenges facing the world. The aim was to produce a set of universal goals, called Sustainable Development  Goals (SDG’s) to replace the (MDGs). The SDGs called Agenda 2030, had 17 goals, with  169 targets and 231 indicators in 5 key areas –  People, Planet, Prosperity, Peace and Partnerships. 

Prosperity, Peace and Partnerships. 

Globally, all countries have adopted the SDG’s  have been integrated into policies throughout  government and businesses. Each of the 17 Goals can be tracked for each country through SDG  Tracker – Our World in Data 

Our Oceans Conference

SDG #14 “Life Under Water”


The first Our Oceans Conference (OOC) in Chile, inviting global leaders to commit to improving ocean pollution, over exploitation, coastal degradation and climate change. Since the first OOC in 2014, the number of OOC Global commitments from Governments, NGO’s  commitments  with commitments for each ‘area of action’.

This included Marine Pollution, Marine Protected Areas, Sustainable Fisheries, Maritime Security, Sustainable Blue Economy and Climate Change. These conferences represented a growing global movement at all levels dedicated to making real tangible changes and keeping life below water healthy and thriving. The outcomes from Our Oceans Conference included;

a) 305 tangible and measurable commitments
b) USD 10,7 billion monetary commitments
c) 14 million km2 of Marine Protected Area

Plastic Collective also joined the movement by making a commitment to work in vulnerable areas  to create solutions to resource recovery and  recycling, which would prevent plastics entering  the oceans.

In 2018, the UN Our Oceans Conference was held in Denpasar, Bali, which specifically addressed SDG 14. 

Ellen MacArthur Foundation

Global Commitment


“We must change how we design, use, and reuse plastics. We cannot simply recycle or reduce our  way out of the plastic pollution crisis. If we don’t act now, by 2050 there could be more plastic  than fish in the oceans”. – EMF. With over 500 global commitments to create a new plastic economy, businesses, governments and organisations pledged to do more, including:

1. Elimination of problematic or unnecessary plastic packaging

2. Moving from single-use to reuse models

3. 100% reusable, recyclable or compostable design

4. Reuse, recycling or composting in practice

5. Decoupling from the consumption of finite resources

6. Transparency

The Global Commitment is led by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, in collaboration with the UN Environment Programme. Through the Global Commitment, businesses and governments commit to change how we produce, use, and reuse plastic. They will work to eliminate the plastic items we don’t need; innovate so all plastic we do need is designed to be safely reused, recycled, or composted; and circulate everything we use to keep it in the economy and out of the environment.

The Global Commitment has already mobilised over 500 signatories that are determined to start building a circular economy for plastic. These include companies representing 20% of all plastic packaging produced globally, some of which are well-known consumer businesses such as L’Oréal; MARS; Nestlé; PepsiCo; The Coca-Cola Company; and Unilever; the world’s largest retailer – Walmart; major packaging producers such as Amcor and Berry Global; and two of the largest resource management specialists – Veolia and Suez.

3R Initiative and Plastic Standards

Global Commitment


A number of global packaging companies and advisory services came together to form the 3R  Initiative (Reduce, Recover & Recycle) steering committee in 2018.

All corporate members of the 3RI’s steering  committee have publicly committed, through the  New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, to  reduce their plastic waste footprints and rethink product design to reduce the amount of plastic  needed and ensure that products are as circular as  possible.  The Guidelines for Corporates set out a vision that  corporates will assess their plastic footprint and  waste, and identify necessary actions within their  value chain. 

The Plastic Credits system is a market-based  solution which offers an innovative financial  instrument that incentivises the collection and  recycling of plastic waste (including beverage  cartons) in a transparent and socially inclusive way. 

Plastic Collective

Our Story


The idea for an initiative like Plastic Collective was established almost 25 years ago, when a young Louise Hardman (our founder) was volunteering with the Marine Education Society of Australasia on a turtle tagging program.

She discovered a small green turtle that was dying a slow painful death from eating plastics hidden in the seagrass. Louise realized there was ‘a gap in the market’; there were few if any projects dedicated to recovering discarded plastic.

Louise, with help from her siblings Steve and Dianne, started Plastic Collective with the aim to empower the world’s most vulnerable communities to address the plastic waste problem. These communities were drowning with the tide of plastic waste, without the infrastructure, education or support needed to address the problem.

Since then, Plastic Collective has developed several community projects, creating micro-enterprise recycling facilities and providing plastic education and training, to transform the lives of these communities. Our Les village, Bali project was even one of the pilot programs for the 3R Initiative.

We are proud to be working with so many different communities and partners who share the same vision – reducing plastic waste and eliminating pollution.

History of Plastic Production

History of Plastic Production

History of Plastic Production: How Long has Plastic Pollution been a Problem?

Scientists studying plankton first noticed plastic pollution in the ocean in the early 1930’s. This was regarded as the first recorded incident of plastic pollution. The scientists were testing a new piece of equipment known as Continuous Plankton Recorders (CRPs), when they ensnared a single-use plastic bag off the coast of Ireland. Today oceans and beaches still receive the most attention of those aiming to abate plastic pollution, but how long has plastic been an issue? 

The Invention of Plastic

Nearly a century ago, Alexander Parkes demonstrated his invention “Parkensine” at the Great International Exhibition in London (1862). This moment in history marked the first production of a plastic material. Parkensine was an organic material derived from cellulose that, once heated, could be molded and retained its shape when cooled. This was the start of the production of revolutionary ‘polymers’ (plastics).

Figure 1. plastic production timeline from 1839 to present day (2021).

The first fully synthetic plastic material (meaning it contained no molecules found in nature) was invented by Leo Baekeland called “Bakelite” (now known as Phenol-Formaldehyde) in 1909. Baekeland had been searching for a synthetic substitute for shellac (a natural electrical insulator invented in 1856) to meet the needs of the rapidly electrifying United States. Bakelite stood out from the competitor product “celluloid” as it was not only a good insulator,but it was also durable, heat resistant, and ideally suited for mechanical mass production. Marketed as “the material of a thousand uses”, Bakelite could be shaped or molded into almost anything, providing endless possibilities. These qualities, whilst ideal for making a strong and durable product, lead to long degradation periods. This meant products survive in the environment for several decades.

The advancement of polymers and the development of plastic categories developed overtime. For example, numbers printed on plastic products and packaging (in Australia, ranging from 1- 7) were invested to indicate different types of polymers used to create each product, which facilitates recycling. A ‘2’, for instance, corresponds to HDPE (High-Density Polyethylene)that is used to make household jugs and containers(i.e., milk,shampoo, etc.) Each of these plastics vary in qualities, however, over time they have been evolved into incredibly inexpensive, flexible and durable materials. This seemingly magical material is increasingly threatening our environment.

Figure 2. HDPE plastic bottles commonly found in household products. 

First Encounter with Plastic Pollution

Scientists accidentally discovered the first recorded instance for plastic pollution back in 1960. Researchers, using a type of technology known as CPR, were fishing for plankton – a key species that indicates the productivity of the ocean, including the health of fisheries. The machine accidentally also produced a history of plastic litter. CPRs were designed to be towed behind ships to capture samples of plankton from the water .

Figure 3. Sheets from the CPR machine, which was intended to collect plankton data. Microplastics were overlooked as “unidentifiable” when accidentally collected by the CPR machine for over 30 years. 

However, when an item became entangled in the CPR, it had to be removed and was recorded in a log. The entangled object was a plastic bag found off the coast of Ireland in 1960. Lead researcher Dr Clare Ostle, from Plymouth’s Marine Biological Association, explained “We searched through [those logs] and what we realised was that we had some really early, historic entanglement cases of plastics”. The scientists looked back through their records, and believe the first encounter with plastic pollution was fishing line back in 1931. This is now regarded as the earliest instance of marine debris in our oceans. The impact of plastic packaging and other sources for plastic pollution have a significant impact on marine animals. Ingestion of plastics has been recorded in many marine species since the 1990’s, but scientists estimate plastic pieces have polluted marine stomachs since plastics first entered the marine environment.

Figure 4. The plastic bag which became entangled in the CPR machine andallerted the scientists of plastic pollution. 

Since then, plastic pollution discoveries have become more devastating . Charles Moore, discovered the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in 1997 whilst competing in the Transpacific Yacht Race.

The Future of Plastic

Plastic Collective are firm believers in resource not waste. “We’ve got a fundamental flaw in our language; we’re calling it “plastic waste”. Everytime we call it plastic waste, we remove its value. To change human behaviours we need to change the perceived value of materials” expresses Plastic Collectives Founder, Louise Hardman.

Plastic has this incredible ability where it can be cleaned, reused and recycled numerous times before it’s value degrades. Since plastic has a fundamental role in our lives, adapting the ways in which we use and dispose of plastic can have a significant impact on our environment. Which is why Plastic Collective are collaboratively working around the world to raise awareness to shift the perception of plastic, and with it, change our detrimental behaviours. Transitioning from a ‘make, take, and dispose’ model to a circular economy model based on ‘reduce, reuse, recover’. Plastic Collective aims to build capacity and finance plastic collection and recycling projects globally.

Figure 5. John Gowings (Founder Gowings Whale Trust) and Louise Hardman (Founder Plastic Collective) working together to develop solutions to plastic pollution. 

Australia’s first Indigenous-run marine plastic recycling enterprise

Australia’s first Indigenous-run marine plastic recycling enterprise

A whale preservation charity will fund Australia’s first Indigenous-run marine plastic recycling enterprise, transforming waste plastic into objects of desire.

Gowings Whale Trust, the NFP environmental organisation started by Gowings, is financing the MiiMi Aboriginal Corporation to run a recycling operation for the Plastic Collective, giving recycled plastic a new life – out of our waterways and off our beaches.

“This partnership has the potential to be a really transformative project,” says Plastic Collective founder and CEO, Louise Hardman. “It will help employ local people and protect marine animals, while demonstrating what a circular economy looks like.”

The circular economy is based on recovering and recycling what was once regarded as waste plastic. But the waste is over, now plastic has a price.

Plastic recovered by Aboriginal Sea Rangers will be broken down and turned into plastic pellets with a monetary value, by the MiiMi Corporation. The process is funded by a donation of $167,000 from the Gowings Whale Trust to purchase a Shruder, the innovative plastic recycling machine invented by Louise Hardman. The pellets will be purchased by the Gowings company, Surf Hardware International, for the creation of surfboard fins and surf accessories. Completing the circle, Surf Hardware International donate 1% of their profits back to the Gowings Whale Trust, who are funding the Plastic Collective. Win-win-win-win-win.

Figure 1. John Gowings (Gowings Whale Trust) and Louise Hardman (Plastic Collective)

Managing Director of Gowings and founder of Gowings Whale Trust, John Gowing, says he’s excited about the venture’s potential.

“One of the Whale Trust’s key objectives is to improve the quality of the ocean for whales and all marine creatures,” he explains. “We hope to use some of the recycled plastic to make products for our surfing business, Surf Hardware International.”

A resource recovery centre will soon be operational in Bowraville on the NSW mid-north coast. The centre will be staffed by six Aboriginal Sea Rangers from Bowraville, Nambucca and Macksville. They will salvage plastic from the Nambucca marine and river catchments and provide environmental data to the NSW Government.

“Most of the rangers already have a good working knowledge of the cultural aspects of the river and sea country,” explains SCU Adjunct Professor and Director of Aquamarine Australia, Steve Smith, who is guiding the rangers’ activities. “Fundamentally, this is about Indigenous people looking after the cultural and environmental values of their own river and sea country.”

According to project co-ordinator Janette Blainey, from MiiMi Aboriginal Corporation in Bowraville, the project will provide meaningful employment.

“It’s going to fulfil their birthright at the same time as providing an economically viable future,” she explains. “Country will be taken care of by the people whose place in country it is.”

Figure 2. Louise Hardman (Plastic Collective), Patricia Walker (MiiMi), and John Gowings (Gowings Whale Trust)

Manager at MiiMi, Patricia Walker says it wouldn’t be possible without the support of Gowings Whale Trust.

“It’s great to know there are people with the wherewithal to do this who are really passionate about supporting this country and these waterways in the way that Gowings does,” she says.

As well as ocean and river plastic from the Nambucca Valley, a consistent supply of waste plastic has been secured from ports on the east coast of Australia. Plastic collection points will also be set up at Gowings’ shopping centre, Coffs Central.

Plastic Collective has established similar micro-enterprises in Indonesia, Malaysia and on the Whitsunday Islands. But Louise Hardman has long wanted to start a project close to home.

“I’m really happy because I feel like I’ve come full circle,” Louise says. “Having grown up in Coffs Harbour, I’ve had a strong relationship with the marine park, the wildlife, the turtles — this is the project I’ve been hoping for, for a long time.”

Figure 3. MiiMi Aboriginal Corporation. (Rowena Chapman, Leyam Buchanan, Patricia Walker, Corey Greenup-Stokes, Zac Stadhams, and Victor Buchanan)


The Plastic Collective System – Designing a Framework to Recycle Fugitive Plastic

The Plastic Collective System – Designing a Framework to Recycle Fugitive Plastic

What is the Plastic Collective System?

Louise is a strong believer in resource not waste. We refer to something that cannot be recycled as waste – dirty nappies for example. Plastic however, has this incredible ability where it can be cleaned, reused and recycled numerous times before it’s value degrades. Louise avoids labeling plastics as “waste” but instead replaces it for terms such as “discarded plastic” or “fugitive material”. One of Plastic Collectives most important principles is changing people’s perception of plastic. If we treat plastic as a material then we can dissociate from that good/bad mentality, and instead focus on the actions and behaviours surrounding its usage, as well as its uses once recycled.

So once people see the value you see this big light come on, and suddenly people are empowered and can then see past the problem to the solution. That really is the essence of the system, that mindset change – we just provide the infrastructure, technology and training to help communities go through that.

Louise Hardman

Founder/CEO, Plastic Collective

Louise’s Big Idea

Plastic Pollution was an issue which resonated with Louise Hardman, Founder/CEO of Plastic Collective. Louise learnt a great deal about the reality of plastic pollution: finding that three quarters of the world’s plastic material was collecting and gathering in the asia-pacific region, learning that across over 4,000 islands there was no waste management systems to prevent plastic leakage, and over 370 million people lacked access to conventional waste management solutions. Having this knowledge and the will to make change, Louise had an idea: give plastic value. She believed through providing plastic materials with an increased value, plastic will be treated less like trash and more like treasure.

The idea gained traction when Louise attended the Our Ocean Conference, Bali 2018, and by pure chance ended up on a delegate ticket. “I was sitting just behind all these very important people – the President of Indonesia, Secretary of State John Kerry, Ellen MacArthur. This was where they launched the New Plastic Economy and the Global Commitment. The idea was to move to a circular economy and eliminate toxic plastics, and with it new designs for recyclable, biodegradable and compostable alternatives.

Shortly after, the 3R Initiative was born (Verra, Nestle, Danone) with its three key tenets: reduce, recover, recycle. One of the global commitments was that Nestle, Danone and Tetra Pak made a global commitment and set up the 3R Initiative, the Plastic Waste Reduction Standard. Plastic Collective joined this initiative, our project in North Bali became one of the 3R Initiative’s pilot programs.

Figure 1. Sorting plastic at the North Bali project – pilot program from the 3R Initiative

Hub and Spoke

Plastic Collective delivered three projects in three very different places – one in Queensland, another in a densely populated but remote area in North Bali, and one on a very small island off the coast of Borneo. The projects were a success and provided lessons for future endeavours: “The main thing was the machinery didn’t have the capacity to run as a financially sustainable business, but it was suitable for these smaller communities.”

The next challenge was moving the infrastructure to bigger models whilst also keeping that small community focus. “We started looking at increasing plastic capacity by increasing the area in which you collect from – so how do we do that? You start to collect materials from various sites in one centralised location, thereby creating a hub and spoke model.”

Louise explains that the idea of the Plastic Collective System really kicked into gear when they applied for a Cooperative Research Centres (CRC-p) grant. This allowed Plastic Collective to develop a system compared to just a singular machine which ran before. Louise and the team, now assessed every aspect of plastic pollution in diverse communities to create viable solutions based on an economical model.

Figure 2. The Shruder MK I – the first Shruder machinery

Figure 3. The Shruder MK II – increased shredding capacity

Figure 4. The Shruder MK I1 – training and education

Figure 5. The Shruder Recycling Station – design and planning

Working Together in Teams

After the CRC-p grant was approved, Louise emphasises that there were different working groups needed in order to get the system off the ground. The first group looked at the equipment itself, creating the Shruder Recycling Station as well as addressing all the other equipment and electrical items.

The second group included four scientists from Southern Cross University overseeing the product manufacturing. They assessed the machinery’s fire retardancy and investigated the most economical and/or profitable types of products that could be made by communities using the material that’s available to them. It also had to be simple to use and suit the Plastic Collective System.

With the assistance from the science team, Plastic Collective evaluated what type of manufacturing equipment would be required: 

  • press moulds, 
  • injection moulds, 
  • extrusion machines, 
  • as well as looking at the possibility of pyrolysis (turning the plastic into diesel fuel).

From the research, Plastic Collective devised the best solution was two machines, an extrusion machine and a press mould, that would be suitable, yet  affordable.

The third unit, led by Plastic Collective’s Aly Khalifa, was responsible for creating the digital software to accompany and oversee the compliance aspect of the projects Plastic Collective undertakes. This was a key component to ensure the monitoring and recording of project compliance to the Plastic Waste Reduction Standard as well as Ethical and Environmental Compliance. Aly is developing a digital solution, including the development of an app which can track all the data related to the collection and recycling of plastics within projects. 

Community engagement is Louise’s remit, and includes setting up a process to deliver projects, first through assessing their viability, then helping to design a system for communities that suits them, each one becoming very different.

“We thought we were going to have one system, but we quickly realised we can’t. There’s no ‘one size fits all’ approach.”

The training and education that Louise oversees now covers eight modules, split into three halves: 

part a) Plastic Education, 

part b) Project Preparation & Enterprise Essentials

part c) Operations Training 

The idea with this is that the first part can be delivered to anyone, it’s an educational tool. Louise and her team have been working on the modules for over six years and it’s still a work in progress. 

Figure 6. Community engagement within the Plastic Collective Bali project

Louise has the tough challenge of having to take quite complex things and make them simple and easy to understand across the various cultures Plastic Collective works with. Moreover, she ensures the information is safe, ethical and compliant.

“I had to rewrite our own plastic requirements, and then pull them all apart and break them down into different components.”

One such component is the social policy agreement, outlining best practices for staff. This is to ensure there is no child labour, and introducing equal fair play – all the things you should be doing.

Figure 7. Helping businesses to join the Plastic Credit Market

Tracking the Plastic

With the advent of plastic credits, it means that certificates can be generated to track the provenance of the recycled material. The collected plastic will be given two QR codes, the first at the collector where it gets dropped off, then a second one when the batch is ready to be processed through the baler. These two codes then link together, displaying where it came from to what it was recycled into. That code then gets attached to the bag, bale or product, and follows the rest of the supply chain. Once it gets bought, the buyer can scan it and go: ‘our friend picked that up on a beach, took it to the manufacturing place, where it was shredded, and turned into this product.’ With this comes a certificate, breaking down all the material types and features.

The plastic is also graded by its quality, ranging from A1 (which means that it’s clean and pure, with no other plastics in it), down to C, which is mixed and potentially dirty. For different products people will request different grades. For example, for an injection blow-mould they would need A1, whereas for a press mould to make a bollard they can use just about anything.

Figure 8. Using QR codes to follow the plastic’s cycle. From collection to remanufacture (Sea Communities). 

Extending Partnerships with Local Businesses

Partnering with businesses and enabling enterprise to flourish form a key component to the success of the Plastic Collective System. Louise has found that many businesses are transitioning to more sustainable and environmentally friendly options. Plastic Collective receives countless emails everyday from businesses enquiring about using recycled plastic material from the ocean or environment. The general process from enquiry to reality goes a little something like this according to Louise: 

“It requires a lot of questions to gain an understanding of exactly what the business would like to achieve and how. We have to say ‘Okay, if you want that certain material, do you want it from the ocean or do you want it from curb-side, and how much do you want?’ From there we have to assess their requirements and look at where we’re getting stuff from and say, ‘Okay, if we introduce just one more component, we can find a manufacturer who will pellitize it’. From there, we can pick it up, granulate it, process it, clean it, and then you’ve got the material to make your new product.”

Figure 9. Turning recycled ocean plastic in to WAW handplanes used in the ocean. 

Certified Standard Logos for Biodegradable & Compostable Plastics

Certified Standard Logos for Biodegradable & Compostable Plastics

Certified Standard Logos for Biodegradable & Compostable Plastics

The Home Compostable verification logo helps consumers clearly identify and differentiate packaging materials as home compostable and biodegradable. Since the demands for environmentally friendly packaging increases, companies are ambitiously developing new packaging designs which are home compostable. With this change in the industry market, consumers are encouraged to ‘keep up the date’ with the latest compostable logos and what they mean. 

Home Compostable: suitable for home compost systems typically under 60C

Figure 1. Australia / New Zealand region “Australia Seedling Home Compostable”. Certified through the Australasian Bioplastics Association (AS 5180).

Figure 2. Europe region “DIN-Geprüft Home Compostable “. Certified through the TÜV Rhineland/ DIN CERTCO (AS 5180).

Figure 3. Europe region “OK Home Compostable”. Certified through the TÜV AUSTRIA (EN 13432).

Industrial Compostable: suitable for Industrial compost systems, typically over 60C

Figure 4. Australia / New Zealand region “Australia Seedling Industrial Compostable”. Certified through the Australasian Bioplastics Association / DIN CERTCO (AS 4736).

Figure 5. North America region “Biodegradable Products Institute Industrial Compostable “. Certified through the Biodegradable Products Institute / DIN CERTCO (ASTM D6400 ).

Figure 6. Europe region “OK Compost Industrial “. Certified through the TÜV Austria (formely Vincotte) (EN 13432).

Figure 7. Europe region “DIN-Geprüft Industrial Compostable “. Certified through the TÜV Rhineland/ DIN CERTCO (EN 13432).

Figure 8. Europe region “Seedling: Industrial Compostable”. Certified through the TÜV Austria Belgium and Germany/ DIN CERTCO (EN 13432).

For the original Plastic Collective PDF visit here

What is Plastic Rain? Amount of Microplastics in the Sky

What is Plastic Rain? Amount of Microplastics in the Sky

Plastic degrades; we know this because we hear it and see it ALL the time. But, are you aware of how much degraded plastic there actually is? Recently a new study has shown evidence for rain containing microplastic particles. But how is this possible?

How can there be microplastics in the sky? 

In Australia there are seven types of plastic. Out of these seven types, there are three which are known to float in water. This is possible, due to the density of these plastics being less or equal to the density of water (density = 1).

1. Polypropylene (bottle caps) has a density of 0.92

2. Polyethylene (plastic bags) has a density of 0.95

3. Polystyrene (fishing floats) has a density of 1.01

In fact, journal science has shown as much as 75% of ‘nanoplastics’ comes from the degradation of these larger products; plastic bags, bottles and fishing gear. Whilst other sources for these tiny pollutants include, synthetic clothing containing plastic microfibers and cosmetic beauty products containing microbeads used for ‘exfoliation’. Overtime, these plastics break down and mix with water in the environment forming very small particles, otherwise known as microplastics or microbeads. There is a property of water called ‘adhesion’, which is the attraction of water molecules to different substances. Essentially, the water sticks to these plastic particles. The microplastics (less than 5mm), are then exposed to the water cycle through evaporation. And of course, what goes up, must always come down. Leading to the precipitation or rain of plastics.


Figure 1.  The Plasto- Hydro Cycle. Microplastics in the environment can be incorporated into the water cycle, causing the phenomenon “Plastic Rain”. Original Source: Krystal Greenwood, Marketing Officer (Plastic Collective).

So, how much plastic is in the sky?

It is hard to determine exactly how much plastic is in the sky, especially since there is no way of measuring it. However, there was a recent study conducted in the United States of America assessing the wind and rain transportation of plastic particles in protected areas of south and central western U.S. The study estimates, more than 1000 metric tons per year, are expected to ‘fall’, more specifically, rain in these areas alone. Another study, converted this figure, estimating the equivalent of 120 million plastic water bottles will fall from the sky in rain every year.

Does this mean I could be drinking plastic? 

It is highly unlikely. Unless you are drinking straight from a freshwater stream located in urban areas area adjacent to landfill your chances of drinking pieces of plastic are relatively low. In regards to the water coming from your tap, risks of accidentally drinking plastic is even less probable. In Australia the threats to water quality include salinity, blue/green algae, blackwater, dissolved oxygen, high turbidity, temperature and acid sulphate soils. Plastic rain, is not one of these major threats; hugely thanks to extensive water filtration. Due to these highly diverse, and in some cases dangerous threats, water quality standards, filters, and tests are incredibly high. Therefore reducing the off-chance of plastic fibers entering our water facilities and your cup.

Figure 2. Drinking filtered tap water, is still the best way to avoid any possible water contamination from plastic. Drinking from single-use plastic bottles, is not a viable solution to avoiding drinking plastic contained in rain.

Is there anything we can do?

Plastics are everywhere and they’re unavoidable. If we have learnt anything from the implications of plastic rain, it’s to prevent and remove plastic waste from the environment. So far, the only solution to prevent plastic from falling out of the sky in rain, is to:

a) significantly reduce our use of plastic, 

b) prevent plastic from entering our environment through improved waste management and,

c) remove existing plastic waste from the environment through recovery programs.

As all plastic conscious citizens know, the best way to reduce and remove plastic waste is to use our collective voices to demand corporate and government change. Together, we have already achieved amazing milestones for planetary health such as creating the movements; beat the bead, straw no more, ban the bag, transforming some of the biggest retailers, including coles and woolworths, and developing global standards, all with the collective goal to reduce plastic waste. So… why not maintain this momentum?

Read more about the Australian Government and plastic pollution here

Read more about sources for microplastics in freshwater here

And find out more on what you can do to reduce Plastic Rain by getting involved today.

ANZPAC Plastic Pact to Reduce Plastic Waste

ANZPAC Plastic Pact to Reduce Plastic Waste

ANZPAC Plastic Pact setting plastic waste reduction targets for huge retailers including Coles and Woolworths by 2025

Louise Hardman was recently interviewed by ABC News Australia regarding the new ‘ANZPAC’ Plastic Pact. More than 60 Australian and New Zealand organisations have signed up to a long anticipated ANZPAC Plastics Pact, pledging that 100% of plastic packaging will be recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2025.

ANZPAC was established as a collaboration between ‘Leading businesses, NGOs and governments from across the plastic supply chain and the region unite behind 2025 Targets to eliminate plastic packaging waste’ APCO (Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation). The collaboration is the second Regional Plastic Pact, after the EU Plastic Pact which now has over 147 signatories from 21 countries. The newly launched ANZPAC which covers Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands – Oceania, aims to add more signatories and global commitments to create a New Plastic Economy.

During the interview, Louise provided insight into the Plastic Pact and how it’s going to influence businesses. Louise stated “I think in the next five years we will see big changes, but it has to come from all sectors, both government and business. What we are finding is that businesses are leading the change … they want to do the right thing”.

Signatories include big brands and supermarket retailers such as; Coles and Woolworths, Coca-Cola and Nestle. The pact was designed to develop collaborative solutions; bringing together key players behind a shared vision of a circular economy for plastic, in which it never becomes pollution.

Figure 1. Louise Hardman, Founder of Plastic Collective.
For us (Plastic Collective) this means companies will be rapidly looking for solutions to reduce waste, our expertise in this field will provide opportunities for collaborations across all levels.
Louise Hardman

Founder, Plastic Collective

1. Eliminate unnecessary and problematic plastic packaging through redesign, innovation and alternative (reuse) delivery models.

2. 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable packaging by 2025.

3. Increase plastic packaging collected and effectively recycled by at least 25% for each geography within the ANZPAC region.

4. Average of 25% recycled content in plastic packaging across the region.

Louise believes that for a successful Plastic Pact, “we need real commitments from all levels including, Federal State and Regional Councils, to make this work”.

As Boomerang Alliance points out, the difficulty with the APCO approach is that no universal standards for packaging have been established. There are currently no agreed standards for reusable or compostable packaging. The Boomerang Alliance has presented a ‘plan B’ to the Plastic Pact believing the 2025 targets are crucial to stopping the waste of resources and environmental damage from plastic packaging.

“We believe none of the following have or are likely to be achieved with current Plastic Pact and APCO arrangements.

1. all manufacturers/suppliers of packaging into the Australian market must (i) be members of APCO and(ii) endorse the Plastic Pact goals and commit to changing their practices by announced launch of 18 May 2021. This won’t be achieved.

2. all manufacturers/suppliers of packaging must report on how they credibly plan to meet and comply with Pact goals by July 2021. This won’t be achieved.

3. all new labelling (expanding the ARL to include reusable/compostable) plus rules around these to be confirmed and in the market by end 2021. This won’t be achieved.

4. all manufacturers /suppliers must be ready to comply with packaging design standards for products entering the Australian market (certifications/agreed standards for reusable/compostable/recyclable) by end 2021. This won’t be achieved.”

The Boomerang Alliance believes, “that if all above necessary measures are not in place by mid-2022 and an independent review reporting by then is not confident all the targets can be met by 2025- then all targets should be mandated, by the start of 2023. This gives three years to achieve the targets – that is change product design and content; invest in new processing; and place on the market”.

You can find the full article, including Louise’s interview here.



Seaspiracy Fact Check: The Inaccuracies and Controversy Explained

Seaspiracy Fact Check: The Inaccuracies and Controversy Explained

Plastic Collective and Marine Biology Students React to the Hit Netflix Documentary and Provide Insight into the Inaccuracies Outlined by the Media

The new Netflix documentary “Seaspiracy” has gained a lot of attention following its release this week. The film, directed and presented by 27-year-old filmmaker Ali Tabrizi, questions the possibility of sustainable large-scale fisheries, and proclaims that commercial fishing industries are guilty of animal welfare abuses. The general census concludes; despite the film being insightful, there are several inaccuracies which question the credibility of the film.
Ali Tabrizi touches on quite a few topics throughout the duration of the Seaspiracy  documentary. The main points outlined are as follows:
1. The inhumane slaughter of animals

2. The exploitation of workers

3. The plastic pollution in our oceans

4. The deforestation of the ocean floor

5. The lack of government oversight and regulations

Whilst Ali shines a light on some evidence of anthropogenic significance on marine species, he also possesses an air of artificiality, resulting in some scenes to appear staged. This characteristic is of concern, due to the biased allegations made by him. The purpose of this article is to address some of the controversial topics surrounding Seaspiracy and provide our point of view on the topics. Plastic Collective has no intentions to undermine the makers of the film.

The film is successful in providing awareness on unsustainable fishing practices and animal mistreatment. However, there are a number of discrepancies throughout the film:

1. The discredit of ecological organisations

2. The privilege to lead a ‘plant-based’ diet

3. The neglection of realistic solutions

4. The disregard for scientific method


Figure 1.

Fishing tralwer boat depicted in Seaspiracy. Souirce: Seaspiracy Netflix Documentary.

Discredit of Ecological Organisations

Throughout the film Ali Tabrizi slanders multiple organisations when documenting his investigations. Whilst he brings up some important topics, he fails to recognise the shared goal for ocean preservation. Through this process, he severely damages the integrity of multiple hard-working organisations and activists. Environmental issues already struggle to gain traction in mainstream media (a point greatfully outlined in Seaspiracy), without Ali’s demonization to cause further harm.

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), is an international non-profit organisation which produces guidelines and standards to allow fisheries to be managed sustainably. Ali interviews Callum Roberts, a Marine Scientist on the topic of the MSC and the impossibility for sustainable fisheries.

They have certified fisheries that produce astonishing levels of bycatch. Those are ignored because the level of kill is considered “sustainable” in itself…. The label on the tin isn’t worth a damn in some cases.
Callum Roberts

Marine Scientist , 00:49:10

The MSC responded, stating “This is wrong. One of the amazing things about our oceans is that fish stocks can recover and replenish if they are managed carefully for the long-term. Examples of where this has happened and stocks have come back from the brink include the Patagonian toothfish in the Southern Oceans or the recovery of Namibian hake, after years of overfishing by foreign fleets, or the increase in some of our major tuna stocks globally.”

Ali requested to have an interview with the MSC and was denied countless times. Finally, he approached them in person where he was “palmed off” once again.

The world’s largest sustainable seafood organisation, doesn’t want to talk to me about sustainable seafood.

Ali Tabrizi

Producer, 00:50:05

This concluded in the investigation into the Marine Stewardship Council’s funding where he declared the “conflict of interest”. In MSC’s response they stated “The MSC is an independent not-for-profit that was set up by WWF and Unilever more than 20 years ago because of concern about overfishing. We are not a commercial enterprise and we do not receive any income from fisheries or from the third-party certification of fisheries.” Ali was under the belief that MSC was funded by Unilever (once a big seafood retailer), resulting in widespread misinformation from the documentary. It is inaccuracies like this, which lead to the discrediting of multiple organisations, which actually share the same ocean preservation goal as Ali. Some critics declare Ali’s depiction of these organisations as ‘the enemy’.

Figure 2.

George Monbiot’s opinion on the BBC and conservation groups as ‘cowardice’ after watching Seaspiracy. Source: Seaspiracy’s Instagram Page.
Another organisation which featured in the documentary was the Plastic Pollution Coalition, who also responded to Seaspiracy’s depiction of their organisation “Unfortunately, although the filmmakers said they were interested in the work of Plastic Pollution Coalition, when we answered the questions, they bullied our staff and cherry-picked seconds of our comments to support their own narrative.” Plastic Pollution Coalition is an alliance of organisations working towards a world free of plastic pollution.

Ali interviewed the Plastic Pollution Coalition to investigate why none of the leading marine organisations and corporations tackling plastic pollution, were encouraging NOT using fishing gear. Jackie Nunez from the Plastic Pollution Coalition answered “Microplastics” when asked what the main source of plastic was in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Ali quickly followed with:

Well, the latest study actually showed that 46% of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is fishing nets alone, and the majority of the other garbage we’re other types of fishing gear. So wouldn’t that be the majority?
Ali Tabrizi

Producer, 00:30:50

Even if unintentional, it appears Ali discredited the Plastic Pollution Coalition’s research, off the basis of Jackie’s answer. It is clear poor communication caused confusion between both parties, as it can be justified that fishing gear is defined as a ‘product’ as opposed to a ‘source’ of plastic pollution. Furthermore, it was this particular interview which highlighted Seaspiracy’s consistency to question ecological organisations integrity.

Since Plastic Collective is tackling plastic pollution, we’d like to acknowledge that fishing line and fishing gear is a major threat to marine species. The main issue with fishing gear is the fact it is produced from plastic with a density greater than water. Unfortunately this makes the product extremely detrimental to coral reefs and marine species, but also incredibly difficult to remove. New technologies and innovations will eventually allow us to travel to the depths of the ocean and remove this form of plastic. In the meantime, Plastic Collective and presumably many other organisations will target more accessible plastic pollution.

Figure 3.

Fishing gear entangling sea bird

Plant Base Privilege

The single best thing I could do every day, to protect the ocean and the marine life I loved, was to simply, not eat them.
Ali Tabrizi

Producer, 01:25:20

Ali painted a heart aching picture throughout the majority of the film with viable solutions being scarce. Ending with one solution, subjectively appearing biased and in favour of a plant based lifestyle. Arguably, there is considerable research concluding that a plant based lifestyle is more ethical and can help reduce carbon emissions compared with traditional diets. However, that lifestyle is NOT viable for everyone. Nutritional requirements, financial situation and cultural beliefs, impact the reality of this solution. Furthermore, individuals experiencing these adversities are at risk of exclusion from leading a more sustainable lifestyle as suggested by Ali. Besides eliminating fish or meat from our diets, no other solutions were suggested, or the possible solution presented was slandered. Seaspiracy left out the aspect of an intersectoral lens, especially when implying that eliminating fish from diets is a global solution. It would have been better to hear ‘if we have the option to give up fish or meat, we believe it is our moral responsibility to do so’ as opposed to an ‘everyone should be vegan’ narrative.

Figure 4.

Ali Tabrizi observing dried shark fins which will be sold for the delicacy; shark fin soup. Source: Seaspiracy Netflix Documentary.

Disregard for Scientific Method

Science and marine experts have commented on the reliability of the scientific method used to research the information for the Seaspiracy film. In an interview with the Independent Bryce Stewart a marine ecologist and fisheries biologist stated “Other ‘set ups’ made no sense – how can the marine life off the west coast of Africa be so abundant and so overfished (a real issue there) at the same time… On the flip side, it was good to highlight misconceptions about issues like the threat of plastic straws relative to many other factors. But where was climate change? I must have blinked and missed that. Please can we see a much more scientific and balanced film next time.”

Furthermore, many of the graphs used in the film lacked values on the x and y axis. This allows the graphs to be misinterpreted since they do not display the complete data. Although many graphs were correctly cited, some weren’t cited at all. Preventing viewers the opportunity to further their own knowledge and conduct their own research. Additionally, some of the data was outdated, with, in some cases the most recent dates being 2017. Although this does not seem like a long time ago, much has changed in those four years, including the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Figure 5.

Screengrab from Seaspiracy, showing the lack of numbers and citation on Shark Population Graph. Source: Seaspiracy Netflix Documentary 00:19:42
Seaspiracy is not an official scientific document so these rules do not always apply. The concern is, due to Seaspiracy’s prevalence in media, the importance for accurate and credible sources is paramount. Seaspiracy might be exposed to this criticism due to the outdated data, inconsistent citation and lack of values on analytical representations.

Neglection of Solutions

As stated previously, Seaspiracy fails to provide any realistic or viable solutions to sustainable fishing. In fact, Ali and his team believe the term “sustainable fishing” is unachievable, furthermore, believing most organisations are using the word ‘sustainable’ as a greenwashing technique.
There’s no such thing as a sustainable fishery. There’s simply not enough fish to justify that. Everything now is sustainable. It’s not sustainable. Just a marketing phrase, that’s all
Paul Watson

Founder of Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, 00:45:05

The Marine Stewardship Council disputes this statement in their response “And what is even more amazing, is that if we take care of our fish stocks – they take care of us. Research shows that fish stocks that are well-managed and sustainable, are also more productive in the long-term, meaning there is more seafood for our growing global population, which is set to reach 10 billion by 2050.”

Removing fish from our global diet, does not confirm these animals will not continue to be slaughtered. Furthermore, removing fish from our diet does not tackle every issue outlined in the film, including, plastic pollution and climate change.  Collective action and education would have been a more inclusive and realistic approach to providing a solution to the issues presented in Seaspiracy. Being an active individual is important. You can:

    • Campaign to end whaling, the improvement of monitoring and shut down illegal fishing practices.
    • Campaign for more research into aquaculture and sustainable fisheries, and donate to existing researchers
    • Educate and spread awareness of these issues
    • Invest in seaweed and algae alternatives for food supplementations
    • Support local or small-scale fisheries (generally have less or limited bycatch)
    • Campaign for new regulations and standards to be developed regarding sustainable fishing practises
    • Support organisations and corporations tackling these issues globally
    • Reduce your plastic use and consumption, and participate in beach clean ups
    • Reduce fish and meat consumption
Ali Tabrizi and Seaspiracy, did a fantastic job of spreading awareness and educating the public on these issues. In fact, the amount of controversy surrounding Seaspiracy is actually increasing the amount of traction the film is gaining. However, Plastic Collective hopes the filmmakers acknowledge the damage caused to the ecological organisations addressed in the film.

You can support the organisations here:


Learn More!

Have other questions? Hi, I’m Krystal Greenwood, I am a Marine Biology student and the Marketing Officer here at Plastic Collective. We are happy to support you on this learning journey! Feel free to reach out to me directly ( at Plastic Collective, Australia.

In light of the documentary University of Washington has published a library of resources to combat ocean misinformation.

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