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45 Years of Acting Up: Friends of the Earth waste campaigns

Friends of the Earth podcast history series made in collaboration with 3CR 855 AM community radio show Acting Up!    Monday 2.00pm.  Ratbags, peaceniks and agents of change, resistance radio that explores the movements that made us. 

45 Years of Acting Up! Transform Waste audio episode

Listen up mp3
Presenter: Megan Williams.
Guests: Fran McDonald (WAGA), Genevieve Fry (FoE Food Coop), Anine Cummins (FoE Transform Waste), Edgie Gifford (FoE Zero Waste), and Jim Green (FoE ACE Nuclear Free).

Great Pacific garbage patch

Great Pacific garbage patch (photo: Scott Snowden)

Back in the day, Friends of the Earth’s Transform Waste campaigns lobbied for container deposit legislation achieving active schemes in operation across Australia today.  Over the years campaigning shifted to electronic waste, packaging and food waste.  In the past four decades, single-use plastics became a focus, and campaigners called for bans to offshore dumping of hazardous industrial tailings in cahoots with trade unions.  Into the 21st century, FOE continues to advocate for resource recovery, to repair, reuse and recycle, calling for transformation of the waste management cycle, and resistance to nuclear waste dumps.  Keep reading to find out how to be part of the solution to eliminate waste and pollution, to stop valuable materials ending up in land fill, and to help heal our environment.  

1972 The first FOE group in Australia forms at Adelaide Uni, campaigning on issues including waste, pollution, Coca Cola and French nuclear tests in the Pacific. 

1981 FOE supports the Merchant Services Guild and other Trade Unions to highlight the trial of offshore dumping of waste from paper mills, and subsequently offshore dumping is banned.

1982 A recycling campaign is established in Melbourne, aiming to introduce national beverage container deposit legislation.

1983 Waste minimisation and recycling grow as key issues, involving FOE groups in Victoria, SA, NSW and elsewhere. These waste campaigns focus on demands to legislate for deposits to be paid on drink containers.

1985 FOE Ryde, NSW discovers radioactive waste from a CSIRO complex in drains in a recreation park in Sydney.

1987 – 1990s FOE Melbourne Recycling campaign promotes radical measures to reduce waste and packaging at the source, calling for the introduction of a circular economy, and lobbying for Victorian container deposit scheme legislation.  Local governments and communities get on board with early recycling schemes, leading to further environmentally friendly reforms, sprouting new cohorts of grass-roots campaigners.

1989 FOE hosts a series of national waste minimisation conferences.  FOE leads a campaign for the introduction of Australian-made recycled paper, and campaigns against photo degradable plastics.

1990 FOE launches a proposal for a national waste strategy aiming for 50% reduction by 2000.

Mid-1990s onwards FOE Food Co-op sources bulk foods, reducing packaging, reusing containers and promoting recycled products.  Food scraps are composted for a local school to use on their community garden. 
A nuclear waste dump proposed for South Australia is defeated due to resistance by Aboriginal land owners and FOE activists with support of the SA State government.

1996 Paper boycott starts to build pressure towards the production of Australian-made 100% recycled paper.

1999 FOE launches the Nuclear Freeways Project to generate awareness of proposed radioactive waste transport through NSW and SA. 16 of the 18 councils along the route oppose the transport of radioactive waste leading to a NSW Parliamentary inquiry.

2004 Howard Liberal government abandons plans to impose a nuclear waste dump proposed for South Australia.

2010 FOE ACE anti-nuclear collective continues to campaign to stop nuclear waste dumps planned for South Australia.

2014 FOE’s Radioactive Exposure Tour journeys from Melbourne to Muckaty, north of Tennant Creek, Northern Territory, to protest the proposed site of a national radioactive waste dump. After extensive resistance by Muckaty traditional owners and activists, the Federal government abandons the waste dump plans. 

2018 FOE supports remote communities in South Australia and the Northern Territory in their ongoing fight against the threat of nuclear waste dumps, as the government targets a site in South Australia on Barngarla country, Eyre Peninsula near the farming community of Kimba.  FOE calls on the Federal government to undertake an independent inquiry into Australia's nuclear waste management, and to safely store nuclear waste at the Lucas Heights research reactor in Sydney, NSW.

2019 FOE Melbourne’s Transform Waste campaigns to hold governments and industry to account, calling for Australia to create a waste system that is comprehensive, transparent and easy to use.  Current campaigns include lobbying governments to improve local recycling and waste management systems, and a shift to a circular economy plan to reuse resources, stop the use of low-grade plastics and ensure waste reduction.

2020 Friends of the Earth Melbourne: mobilise - resist – transform

Join Friends of the Earth Transform Waste campaign

Join Friends of the Earth ACE Nuclear Free collective

Volunteer with Friends of the Earth Melbourne


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