Cotton Buds Ban Pushed to Safeguard Malabar Wastewater Treatment Plant

Malabar Wastewater Treatment Plant

Did you know that plastic cotton buds are a major cause of damage and deterioration of the Malabar Wastewater Treatment Plant? Unfortunately, many Sydney locals don’t dispose of this basic cosmetic item properly, resulting in a serious problem at the wastewater facility.



According to Malabar Wastewater Treatment Plant general manager, Maryanne Graham, used plastic cotton buds or Q-tips and tiny wet wipes flushed down the toilet end up in Sydney Water’s pipes and screening equipment, leading to clogs, damage and backflows. 

These items are non-biodegradable and will remain solid for a number of years, which means that they can easily combine with other debris, such as oils and fats, flowing and filling up the pipelines.

Photo Credit: Sydney Water

Thus, New South Wales Environment Minister Matt Kean is advocating to ban plastic cotton buds permanently, alongside single-use lightweight bags, straws and stirrers. 

“The single-use items we are phasing-out will stop an estimated 2.7 billion items of plastic litter  from ending up in our environment and waterways over the next 20 years,” the minister said.

“We can’t keep sending our scraps to languish in landfill when there are huge opportunities to turn our trash into treasure.

“Under our plans, every household will have access to a separate bin for their food and organic waste for the first time in NSW. This will not only deliver on our commitment to achieve zero emissions from organics in landfill by 2030, but will also grow our economy by extracting more resources like biogas from our waste.” 



A transition phase introducing new products as well as an education drive will be underway before the phase-outs are in effect. The State Government will invest $356 million in this campaign for the next five years, which will be divided across local councils.

“We want NSW to be a leader when it comes to reducing waste, maximising recycling and protecting our environment, but we want to do it in a way that drives job creation and innovation,” Premier Gladys Berejiklian said.