A GROUP of banana growers in North Queensland have teamed up with environmental project group, GreenCollar, as part of a new international waste reduction standard.
Banana bunch covers generate up to 300,000 kilograms of plastic waste each year, with the first of its kind project aiming to give businesses financial encouragement to recover and recycle the plastic material by obtaining international standard environmental credits.
The thin plastic bag style protective covers are typically buried or burned on farms, breaking down into waterways and soil.
The project aims to incentivise businesses to properly discard or recycle the plastic to prevent soil damage.
GreenCollar chief executive officer James Schultz said the project is testing the international standard at the same time as developing the project.
"With this standard we have an opportunity to make an intervention to stop plastic affecting river systems and the reef. We can then measure that impact and convert that into a credit which then can be sold as a plastic offset to people who are looking to reduce plastic within their own supply chains," he said.
"There's a lot of people who are heavily motivated to reduce plastic waste, that is the great thing about tackling this issue.
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"Everyone is on the same page, we need to get more plastic out of the environment.
"Giving people the incentive and ability to afford to change practice is the underlying rational."
GreenCollar chief scientist Jenny Sinclair said we are at "a global crisis point for plastics."
"With 350 million tonnes of plastic produced annually and only a small fraction of that recycled, it's an issue that needs to be urgently addressed on a global scale," she said.
"Projects like this will provide a fantastic blueprint for corporations to take responsibility for the management of plastic waste, while achieving social, economic and environmental benefits at the same time."
In addition to positive environmental outcomes, Ms Sinclair said there are also economic and social benefits that come with the solution.
"Our primary focus here is clearly to address an urgent environmental need, however we always want our solutions to benefit the communities and stakeholders that we work with, as this will ultimately make the approach more sustainable."
The project is one of 24 international pilot projects chosen to trial a new Plastic Waste Reduction Program framework.
Project proponents are able to earn credits at two stages of the plastic lifecycle - in the waste recovery phase, where material is diverted or removed from the environment, or in the recycling phase, where waste is reprocessed into a product, product component, or secondary raw material.
For every kilogram of plastic recovered from the environment or recycled, the project proponent earns a single credit.
The new standard is the world's first comprehensive framework for organisations to verifiably manage and reduce plastic waste, launched last month by the 3R Initiative alongside US not-for-profit Verra, the administrator and secretariat for six leading global environmental market standards.
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The story North Qld banana growers part of international trial first appeared on North Queensland Register.