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Legal Strategies to Cure the Plastic Planet: Corporate Marriage and Public Health Regulation of Single-Use Non-Biodegradeable Plastics

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Document pages: 11 pages

Abstract: The 2018 export ban of recyclables to China provided an additional important reason for Australia in particular to act internationally and domestically to reduce its plastic waste. The problems Australia faces from single use non-biodegradeable plastics are replicated in every nation on Earth. Focusing on the Australian context, this article will examine regulatory approaches to the problem of plastic production, consumption and disposal and its negative impact on public and ecosystem health. It will scrutinise the current legal framework for managing plastic waste at both the Commonwealth, State and international levels, advocating greater regulation. Its regulatory recommendations will include a Pigouvian tax in the form of an excise on plastic production to alter consumer behaviour and raise revenue for further investment in reusable alternatives. They also will include a consideration of mandatory corporate responsibility obligations, a concept we here term ‘corporate marriage.’ Our proposal of corporate marriage is designed to move corporations away from the voluntary and unconnected nature of CSR commitments to a corporation’s activities to a model which demands recognition and quantification of harm caused by individual corporations. Corporations could either design a sustainable long-term intervention in partnership with a local community, local government or NGO that directly ameliorated the effects of their corporate activity with annual progress certified by an agreed third party or face an increased taxation burden. The documentary records of this partnership and the annual certified updates would form part of the corporation’s registered public documents. Other alternative and additional measures to combat single-use plastic waste as utilised in other jurisdictions will be proposed for Australian implementation.

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