Cairns Council agrees to ditch single-use plastics

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A 10-year-old girl has helped convince a local government on the doorstep of the Great Barrier Reef to phase out using plastic straws in its council operations for the first time in Queensland.

The Cairns Regional Council today unanimously agreed to set a goal of removing straws and other single-use plastics, and to look at supporting local businesses to make the same change.

The council will also encourage its markets, events and functions to eventually eliminate straws.

Cairns girl Molly Steer has been running her Straw No More campaign for about a year and has already convinced more than 90 schools in Australia and overseas to do away with drinking straws.

Today’s decision by the Cairns Regional Council was her biggest win yet.

“I feel very achieved and proud of myself,” Molly said after the meeting.

“My mum helped me a lot with making a lot of speeches … I’ve had to do a lot of speeches.”

Plastic straws can be deadly for reef animals, including turtles, and plastic in the ocean also kills coral.

One scientific study found corals in contact with plastic are much more likely to be diseased.

In January, more than 30 tourism operators in Cairns and Port Douglas signed-up to ban plastic straws at businesses within the Great Barrier Reef.

Founder of another group — The Last Straw — Nicole Nash, who is also a marine biologist, said plastic straws were ending up in the bellies of turtles and other marine life.

Cairns one of the first in Asia-Pacific with plastic straw ban

Cairns Mayor Bob Manning said while change would not happen overnight, the decision was momentous.

“We’ve got this greatest reef in the whole world sitting off our coast,” he said.

“It is also a critical part of our future … our future very much hinges a lot on tourism.”

He said he hopes it encourages change across the entire city.

“There will be a lot of business people who are currently using straws who will say ‘We’re going to follow that example too’,” Cr Manning said.

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