Decked out in a full length plastic knitted shark suit Councillor Kerry Brown had a point to make at the Blue Mountains Council July meeting.
The suit complete with teeth, fins and a tail was knitted from plastic bags by Alison Morely, a teacher at St Canice’s Primary School in Katoomba, as part of an awareness program about environmental sustainability and recycling this year.
“It’s a wonderful example of what we can do with plastic bags,” the Greens councillor told the meeting.
Cr Brown wants the council to look into the feasibility of sourcing products from “post consumer soft plastic” when installing new street and park furniture like seats, tables, walkways, bollards, fencing and signs to help avoid soft plastics “going into landfill, waterways, wildlife and the food chain”.
St Canice’s Principal Mark Geerligs hopes council will back the idea. His school is considering buying an $800 bench of their own from this material.
“We are in a beautiful national park and it is our job to protect it. We are trying to encourage our kids to take their plastics home ... we are at the top of a hill … and so all our rubbish could go into the valleys,” Mr Geerligs told the Gazette.
Mr Geerligs said the shark suit was made of “plarn” – plastic recycled yarn, which is basically plastic bags cut up into loops. Some 200 plastic bags and very large knitting needles were used to make the suit and it showed what could be done with waste, he said.
Cr Brown told council that “ten years ago the Royal Botanic Gardens were using recycled milk cartons for boardwalks, it is good for outdoor infrastructure”.
Bubblewrap, biscuit packets, cling wrap, chip packets, pasta bags and cereal box liners are just some of the products that can be used for the furniture.
Cr Brown said there was more soft plastic waste than customers for the recycled products, and it will be “some years before soft single-use plastics are a thing of the foolish past; they are the most common pre-sale food packaging”.
All councillors agreed to get a briefing about the idea.