Supermarket giants in immense failure

Coles and Woolworths have a lot to answer for given their trumpeting of their leadership with the soft plastic recycling scheme, encouraging us all for years to return bags to their stores (“$3.5m bill to dump plastics in landfill”, February 4). It beggars belief that they had no knowledge of this disaster with REDcycle, that there were no routine checks, that the immense scale of this failure was unknown. The NSW EPA chief executive’s comment that “customers will be disappointed” is a massive understatement – outrage is more appropriate. The other tragedy is that for most of us, we can’t take our business elsewhere as Coles and Woolworths have done such a thorough job of monopolising the market. Linda Shaw, Braddon

This is a ludicrous situation; the public have participated in this scheme to save soft plastics from going to landfill. Now, all that good work for nothing: Five thousand tonnes of plastic being ordered to landfill? It is time for the federal government to step in and find a solution. Firstly, for the stockpile and secondly, for the ongoing recycling of plastics. We need a network of recycling plants. We have the technology, we have the public commitment; do we have a government that will act? Chris Hinkley, Glebe

The Herald continues to report on the appalling abuse of the environment by the failures to deal with the plastics, and now especially soft plastics. This should not be a commercial proposition, dependent on an organisation’s ability to make a profit. It should be the responsibility of our governments, federal and state, to lead in this matter. Legislate to make it compulsory for all plastics to be recyclable and for all plastics to be recycled. The consumer has to pay eventually but in the meantime, the environment continues to suffer – with huge longer-term costs. Peter Lewis, Roseville

Plastic in landfill is only part of the problem. The other is where is it going to be dumped? We are losing too much of our land now, from developers and other users. With coal on its way out we could use open cut mines that are huge holes in the ground and completely wrecked landscapes. Anthony Healy, Willoughby East

Perhaps the federal and state governments could take this opportunity to put a notable amount of pressure on companies that are the source of these materials, so that they rejig their production processes to swap over to completely reusable materials. Paul Laverty, Revesby Heights

Yet further news of thousands of tonnes of well-intended soft plastics dumped in landfill. When will we learn? The waste stream is hopelessly complex, consumers are unable to properly sort it and governments persist with the fiction of the circular economy where waste is turned endlessly into useful products. Industrial scale high-temperature incineration avoids landfill and its methane emissions and co-generates electricity for the grid. Alan Haselden, West Pennant Hills

There is a golden opportunity for governments to co-operate and legislate that all manufacturers and suppliers of all packaging must be responsible for the complete recycling of their products to a reusable end product. This would have a two-fold effect. Firstly, in the short term, the supermarkets would be compelled to re-process existing stockpiles of soft plastics, and secondly, in the longer-term, it would be in the economic interests of all industries to reduce packaging to a minimum, and therefore reduce the costs of compulsory recycling. Frank Paterson, Mount Annan

How did it come to this? It takes more than good intentions or greenwashing of our plastics use.
We turn to the government for enforceable guidelines and laws. We turn to the businesses for investment and to use the products created by reuse of the materials. We, the consumer, can play a small part in recycling and buying those recycled products. The failure of REDcycle is an appalling missed opportunity. Rhyan Andrews, Faulconbridge

Why delay? Cull the feral horses before it’s too late

It appears lunatics are in charge when science is trashed because a few think feral horses and other animals are more important than saving our environment (“Sabotage stampede”, February 4). Shoot the horses before it is too late. Feral pigs are shot, why not feral horses? Kosciuszko National Park is for all Australians to enjoy, not just a few who do not appreciate pristine wilderness. Lindsay Somerville, Lindfield

The name “national park” says it all. They are truly the property and responsibility – and immense joy – of the nation. Their administration by the states is justified on grounds of convenience and practicality. Surely, though, when problems overwhelm state resources there should be scope for federal support and intervention. The infestation of feral horses in the Kosciuszko National Park is one such problem where federal capabilities are needed and appropriate. Norman Carter, Roseville Chase

Your report on the impact of feral animals on our national parks was a useful wake-up call on the nature and scale of the issue. It was regrettable, though, that while quoting the trout fisherman’s appreciation of the alpine region’s less spoilt environment in the 1930s, your writer left until the very end the token acknowledgement that trout are, themselves, an introduced species.
Though the damage inflicted by trout is less visible than that wrought by other animals, trout are now understood to be the primary threat to more than 20 of Australia’s small native fish species. Trout were also one of the earliest species to be introduced to Australia by the quaintly named “acclimatisation societies” which conceived of Australia as an incomplete environment awaiting the insertion of “proper” European animals, and to which we can trace most of the problems described in your article. Greg Battye, Yarralumla (ACT)

Pockets of nature, whether in the public domain or privately tenured, are for wildlife, and hopefully life-rafts keeping our species afloat in a sea of extinction. These refuges of survival are in danger of going under due to the rise of feral animal populations. As for the horse in the alpine region, the collapse of the Kosciuszko environment will take a great toll on endemic and introduced creature alike. Historically, the horse has been secured, domesticated on farms, not running wild in a fragile ecosystem shaped over countless millennia. Steve Dillon, Thirroul

If only those protectors of “pristine” national parks from feral horses were as loud in their protests against feral developers, climate change deniers, coal miners, and hypocritical politicians. Then might we look forward to a pristine environment and a future for other species, humans included, that these offenders are bent on destroying. Anna Searls, Randwick

GPs deserve better care from government

I have a very good GP (“Health reform top priority insists PM”, February 5). I trust him to do his best for me, and he does. He is professional, empathetic and gives impeccable care and health advice. After my Medicare rebate it costs me $50 to see him, but he is value for money. He keeps me upright and mobile and reasonably healthy.
Every Australian deserves this same care, but many people can neither afford it or find a regular GP to provide it. Some don’t have one at all. It saves a lot of money for everyone to have good doctors on the ground and accessible.

Tradies, and their taxpayer funded big utes, and taxpayer funded government building programs, not so much. Medicare, and its doctors, deserve better funding from governments. Wendy Atkins, Cooks Hill

I’ve got an idea. Axe the tax cuts and fund the desperately needed increase to the Medicare rebate. Patrick McMahon, Paddington

Don’t throw shade

Isn’t it great that so many Australians are heeding the Skin Cancer Council’s message to cover up, to slip, slop, slap and to not bake in the sun all day at the beach (“Will US cabana ban hit our beaches?” February 4).

Like many thousands of other beach-loving Australians I too have had a melanoma removed and now must take all possible precautions. We have found the cabanas a god-send for sufficient shade and ours frequently covers four adults and three small roaming boys.

Umbrellas, apart from only being adequate for two, have a long history of taking off in the wind, only stopping when they fly into somebody.

I take the point of lifesavers access, but the obvious answer is to keep cabanas away from the waters edge and from between the flags as well as maintaining a clear sweep of sand for surf club vehicle access. Hopefully, commonsense will prevail. On most of our beaches there is more than enough room for all, with their necessities, for a happy – and safe – day out. Kay Buckeridge, Mollymook Beach

Pell doubts remain

Your correspondents who claim that George Pell “suffered 404 days in jail for a crime he did not commit” and was “totally vindicated” have misunderstood the way Australia’s judicial system works (Letters, February 4).

The High Court acquitted Pell because the evidence presented was insufficient to prove guilt. Acquittal is not proof of innocence, nor is it vindication. He should not have been imprisoned, but we simply do not know whether Pell was guilty, and now he has passed away, we never will. Steve Cornelius, Brookvale

Wrong equation

Why do selective schools bear the brunt of the blame for a brain drain from the comprehensive system when increasing private school scholarships as discussed in your article earlier this week are attracting high achievers from as young as nine without the same impunity and scrutiny (“Selective schools rise, state high achievers plummet”, February 5)? There are many contributors to the problem, and selective schools are only one (overstated) part of the equation. Anna Pavlakis, Kirribilli

Waste mail

Malcolm Knox is at his brilliant best in his withering condemnation of local MPs profligate waste of taxpayers’ dollars on self-promotional junk (“Paying MPs to send us junk mail”, February 4). Even more irritating is the fact that in two Northern Beaches electorates the unwanted snail-mail came from retiring members, with one last hurrah wistfully featuring a profile photo from the MP’s much younger days. Obsolete farewell messages in every sense. Joy Nason, Mona Vale

Unlock our beaches

It is right to celebrate the immense social, recreational, and cultural values derived from our ocean pools (“Swim and tonic: Why ocean pools are precious public places”, February 4). Yet were we to contemplate building one today, we’d not be permitted to relocate a starfish much less commence excavations. Here on the Northern Beaches, where the rock platforms and beaches extend 40km from North Head to Barrenjoey, the council still struggles to allocate a single inch where families with dogs can lawfully take a walk together.

The experience of the ocean pools teaches us that minor environmental cost is sometimes thoroughly outweighed by the values unlocked by that cost. It is not a case of mistreating the environment, but using it sensibly. Mitch Geddes, Palm Beach

Paddy’s a gem

In my mid-6os I am old enough to remember the allure of the old Paddy’s Market which was once an Aladdin’s cave to a young thing, as I was then ( “First Paddy’s, now Glebe Markets; Sydney is losing its soul, and for what”, February 4). I still have the antique silver bracelet that my mother paid $20 for. It is a gorgeous treasure from a more gracious age. Genevieve Milton, Dulwich Hill

Carrier di-‘Spirited’

Your correspondent’s letter about Qantas reflects many passengers’ feelings (Letters, February 4).

Flying from Sydney to a regional destination just over a week ago we were seated and belted up when it was announced that the plane “was broken”. I’ve heard crews say “engineering issues” before – never “broken”.

I worked in Qantas years ago when it was a government instrumentality. When in Australia I would occasionally take VIP jet base tours, showing off the maintenance hangars. This was followed by a slap-up lunch in a mocked up jet. The maintenance was the gold star. Now it is offshore, presumably to the best bidder. Old Qantas hands seethe when the words “Spirit of Australia” are used. Susie Dunn, Roseville Chase

Currency crisis

I don’t care much for esoteric debates on design or implementation-timing of notes: I’ll continue using them (Letters, February 4). The opportunity should be seized, however, to correct a critical flaw in the physical design of all our banknotes: having the same width for all denominations. Earlier notes, wider in high denominations, narrowing in width to the lowest denomination, allowed immediate sorting and placing in wallets, seeing totals in the wallet at a glance, and an increased assurance that the correct denomination was being given or received. Alan Cook, Merewether

My observations of overseas banknotes is that mostly the head of state appears on one side of the banknote and cultural items on the other. For the banknote in question perhaps an image of Parliament House could be used on one side and images of First Nation cultural items on the other. Antony Osman, Wahroonga

I agree with your correspondent’s sentiments about royals on banknotes, but Henry VIII had six wives, not five. And, putting Prince Harry on the $100? I think you’ll find his wife would have something to say about that. Kathleen Molloy, Thornleigh

‘Woke’ worrier

I have never understood “woke” (Letters, February 4). Does that mean I am not “woke”? Maria Mellick, Bellevue Hill

The digital view

Online comment from one of the stories that attracted the most reader feedback yesterday on
This throwaway joke at the bakery was just another example of ageism
From Thornton Melon: ″⁣I’m 59 and a barista handed me my coffee and said ‘here you go poppa bear!’. I was taken aback at first but as I walked away I burst out laughing. Life’s too short (and getting shorter) to get offended by things like this. No matter how old you are, you need an ability to laugh at yourself. Older people say they have become invisible to the younger generation. But everyone has become so internally focussed that they rarely notice anyone else.″⁣


Extracted from The Sydney Morning Herald

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