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Cairns initiative sees discarded plastic straws recycled into park seating

Cairns initiative sees discarded plastic straws recycled into park seating
July 17, 2019

With Cairns and Great Barrier Reef tourism operators taking a lead on plastic straw waste, the hard work of The Last Straw on the Great Barrier Reef initiative has seen what were once over 500,000 plastic straws recycled into a stylish parkland seat.

Located on the Cairns Esplanade, the seat, manufactured by leading recycled plastic manufacturer Replas, conveys an important message about recycling and waste reduction.

The Last Straw on the Great Barrier Reef founder Nicole Nash explains “a circular economy is our future if we are to even begin to control the plastic problem the world is facing.

“There is plenty of plastic out there, both on the land and unfortunately in our oceans. We need facilities like Replas to ensure our waste is recycled in Australia.”

In Cairns, more than 120 venues have ditched plastic straws and at least 350 venues over the entire Great Barrier Reef coastline have joined the campaign since launching in January 2017. From nightclubs to cafés, gyms, reef boats and even food vans, business owners are feeling the pressure to make changes around waste in their venues.

With some venues committing to go plastic straw free as soon as they heard of the movement, it resulted in surplus amounts of un-used straws in the region. The Last Straw on the Great Barrier Reef stepped in to collect more than 500,000 plastic straws from local venues, stockpiling the items until Nash could find a way for them to be re-purposed.

As there is no soft-plastic recycling facility in north Queensland, the straws travelled to Melbourne to Australian owned company Replas.

A Replas spokesperson advised “for recycling to work, it is essential that the people who produce plastic waste take responsibility for the life cycle of the material,” says a Replas spokesperson. “We choose to partner with companies that understand and embrace the Pull Through Effect, like Nicole Nash with The Last Straw on the Great Barrier Reef.”

Businesses like Replas ensure that recycled plastic is bought back into viable, useful products that will better the environment. In early 2016, ReGen Plastics launched a project to establish a facility to recycle plastics in Cairns, but require further funding in order to proceed.

ReGen Plastics co-founder of Lesley Van Staveren added “ReGen Plastics offers congratulations to the Last Straw on the Great Barrier Reef on demonstrating the power of recycling. This is exactly why we need the ability locally to process plastic resource that would otherwise end up in landfill.”

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning concluded “it’s easy to take for granted the fact that we have the Great Barrier Reef on our doorstep but the truth is that we all have a responsibility as the reef’s custodians to protect it from our actions.

“We know that plastic straws are a killer of marine life – it makes sense to remove them from circulation.

“Thanks to projects like The Last Straw on the GBR, we have seen a real and tangible action to protect our marine life. This recycled plastic seat will forever serve as a reminder of this important step we’ve taken as a community.”

Food and Beverage businesses looking to take the next step to reduce other-single use plastics can download Cairns Regional Council’s Plastic Free Guide online at

For a full list of plastic straw free venues in the region go to

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13th May 2019 - City of Darwin installs Replas recycled plastic bollards at four sports ovals

30th April 2019 - Zoos Victoria ban all single-use plastics 

22nd March 2019 - Rottnest Island supports initiative to reduce plastic waste

18th March 2019 - Plastic drinking cups removed from Sydney Showground

5th March 2019 - ‘Sea of plastic’ fills Wellington’s Westpac Stadium after Eminem concert

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12th January 2019 - 1Rebel becomes first gym chain to ban plastic bottles

24th November 2018 - Phuket launches ground breaking ‘No Foam No Plastic’ environmental initiative

27th July 2018 - ICC Sydney leads in events and venues sector plastic bottle waste reduction

29th January 2018 - Far North Queensland tourism operators back Great Barrier Reef plastic straws ban

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