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Single-use plastic bans in Australia

Thursday, 30 Jun, 2022

Here's your comprehensive run-down of the actions each state in Australia is taking to #StemTheTide of single-use plastics!

 

The Problem

There is no doubt that one of the biggest threats to the ocean and environment is the scourge of single-use plastics. 

 

Single-use plastic accounts for over a third of all plastic manufactured every year, with 98% made from fossil fuels. Plastic that is used once - for a few moments and then discarded or tossed away, polluting the environment. From plastic straws, water bottles, coffee cups and lids, to plastic packaging and plastic bags - single-use plastic is everywhere.

 

With global plastic production expected to double in the next 20 years and Australia producing in excess of 2.5 million tonnes of plastic waste each year, society’s insatiable appetite for single-use plastics must be stopped to protect the health of the ocean and ultimately ourselves.

So what are states doing about it?

Thankfully, action is being taken against problematic single-use items, with several states in 2021 implementing their first stages of single-use plastic bans. This is a good start, but there is still a long way to go.

 

Find out more about current plastic bans in your state by clicking the links below:

 

Queensland

South Australia

Australian Capital Territory

Western Australia

New South Wales

Victoria

Northern Territory

Tasmania

 

Queensland

The Queensland Government has released a statement with a 5-year roadmap for further phase-out of single-use plastics that includes: 

- Bans on plastic cotton buds sticks, microbeads, and loose Expanded Polystyrene Packaging (EPS) from 1 September 2023

- A ban on all disposable plastic bags in September 2023, including heavyweight bags.

- Mass release of lighter-than-air balloons will be banned next year

- The phase-out of disposable coffee cups/lids


More information about QLD's plastics bans

South Australia

In 2009, South Australia became the first state in Australia to ban single-use plastic bags. 

 

In March 2021, the state government banned single-use plastic items like plastic straws, stirrers and cutlery, and from March 2022, polystyrene items like cups, bowls, plates, ‘clamshell’ containers and all oxo-degradable products have been prohibited from production manufacture, supply and sale in the state. 

 

The next stage proposed by the South Australian government is to ban cotton buds and fruit and vegetable bags by 2023. Following this, plastic plates and bowls, heavyweight plastic bags, cups and lids, coffee cups containing plastic, and plastic takeaway containers will be banned by 2024.

 

More about plastic bans in South Australia

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT was the second Australian jurisdiction to enact laws to ban certain single-use plastics with the Plastic Reduction Act 2021 coming into effect 1 July 2021 banning the sale, supply or distribution of the following single-use items:

- Plastic cutlery

- Plastic beverage stirrers

- Expanded polystyrene takeaway food and beverage containers

 

Following this, the ACT Goverment has comitted to phase out the following items from 1 July, 2022 as part of Stage 2 of the bans: 

- Single-use plastic straws (with exemptions for those who need them)

- Cotton buds with plastic sticks

- All oxo-degradable plastic products such as degradable plastic bags and degradable dog waste bags. They do not decompose at all ; they just break up into smaller pieces quickly and become more harmful

 

According to the Plastic Reduction Act 2021, the original plan was to ban single-use plastic fruit and vegetable “barrier bags”as well. Unfortunately, this has been delayed (without any further information available). 

 

A third stage of bans will be considered from 1 July, 2023. These items include:

- microbeads

- expanded polystyrene products and packaging (with potential exemptions for white and brown goods)

- plastic takeaway containers. 

 

All the proposed bans will also go through the required 12-week public notice period.

For more information, visit Next Steps Policy 2021

Western Australia

Western Australia’s ban on single-use plastics commenced on 1 January, 2022 with enforcement delayed until 1 July, 2022. The ban includes plastic cutlery, stirrers, straws, plates, bowls, thick plastic bags, polystyrene food containers, and helium balloon releases. Disposable plastic cups for cold beverages will be banned from 1 October, 2022. 

 

In stage two, takeaway coffee cups/lids containing plastic, plastic barrier/produce bags, cotton buds with plastic shafts, polystyrene packaging, microbeads and oxo-degradable plastics will be banned by 2023. 

 

More information on WA's plastics plan

New South Wales

New South Wales commenced their ban on lightweight plastic bags on 1 June, 2022.

 

NSW have submitted a ban on the following items to commence on 1 November 2022:

- plastic straws, stirrers and swizzle sticks

- plastic cutlery, including forks, spoons, knives, sporks, splades, chopsticks, and food picks

- plastic plates plates

- expanded polystyrene (EPS) food service items such as clamshells, cups, plates and bowls.

 

Bans will also come into effect for single-use plastic cotton buds and rinse-off personal care products containing plastic microbeads, such as face and body cleansers, exfoliants and masks, shampoo, conditioner and hair dyes, and toothpaste.

 

More information on NSW's plastic bans

Victoria

Victoria has announced it will ban the following by February 2023:

- Single-use straws

- Cutlery and plates

- Beverage stirrers

- Expanded polystyrene food and drink containers

- Cotton bud sticks 

 

More details on Victoria's single-use plastics ban

Northern Territory

The Northern Territory goverment has announced great news this year, and has committed for a single-use plastic ban by 2025 that proposes to ban:

- plastic bags

-plastic straws and stirrers

- plastic cutlery

- plastic bowls and plates

- expanded polystyrene (EPS)

- consumer food containers

- microbeadsin personal health car

- EPS consumer goods packaging (loose fill and moulded)

- helium balloons. 

 

The next step for the state is to commit to ban the heavyweight plastic bags, subject to a consultation process. 

 

Read more about the NT's plastic bans

Tasmania

Tasmania has not as yet made any commitments to banning single-use plastics.

Conclusion

2022 will continue to be a big year of change for single-use plastics in Australia.

 

Interested in what else you can do to help stop plastic pollution? REFUSE, Reuse, Reduce, Recycle, Report!

 

You can also join a Sea Shepherd beach clean-up near you!

 

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