2021: Single-Use Plastic On The Way Out

After many years of community action to reduce plastic pollution, 2021 promises to be the year that our state and territory Governments make a start to reduce problem takeaway plastic items.  Five jurisdictions – South Australia, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, Western Australia and Victoria have either passed or have promised legislation to reduce takeaway single-use plastics. This includes such things as straws, cutlery, plates and polystyrene containers. We applaud them.

The other jurisdictions, New South Wales, Tasmania and the Northern Territory are considering their options but lagging behind. They need to catch up quick and we are campaigning to get them moving.

Queensland Government

Today, the Queensland Parliament unanimously passed the Waste Reduction and Recycling (Plastic Items) Amendment Bill. The bill bans certain problem single-use plastics, commonly found in litter and in landfill.

It will mean that from 1 September 2021, plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, plates and bowls and expanded polystyrene cups and containers will be banned in Queensland. These are amongst the most littered items in Queensland. Banning these plastic items will reduce littering and help alter our bad plastic habits.

Reusable, non-plastic or certified compostable products are allowed as alternatives.

Queensland is the second state in Australia to introduce laws to ban single-use plastics.

The bans are supported by all political parties in Queensland, the major hospitality and retail industry sectors and APCO who represent the beverage and packaging sector. Major fast food (such as McDonald’s) and retail chains (such as Coles) have already stopped or are about to stop supplying these items as part of the global push to reduce marine plastic pollution.

The Queensland Government intends to add other plastic items such as coffee cups/lids, other plastic takeaway items and heavyweight plastic bags after further investigation.

Australian Government

Last week the Commonwealth announced its new National Plastics Plan. This is intended to complement the work of state and territory plastic bans (as included here). The key things that Wildlife Queensland likes about their package are:

  • The phase-out of polystyrene packaging, PVC labels and non-certified compostable packaging in 2022. This includes polystyrene packaging to transport goods as well as takeaway food and beverage containers.
  • Government support for an international marine plastic agreement to curb global plastic pollution. The government will also be working with Indonesia and Pacific countries to reduce plastic waste and litter.
  • The introduction of filters in new washing machines by 2030. These filters will remove microplastics washed out of clothing. Currently, these microplastics get washed down the drain and end up in the ocean.
  • Government Taskforce to examine options to reduce cigarette butt litter and a possible product stewardship scheme. Our proposals include removing the filter from cigarettes. More collection points, as well as greater penalties and policing of butt litter, should also be included.
  • A National Plastic Free Beaches project. This expands the Boomerang Alliance Plastic Free Places program across Australia. The program to date has removed over 7 million single-use plastic items from use.
  • Consistent kerbside recycling services. There is too much variation between councils on their recycling services. This ranges from councils using a variety of coloured lids to differences in what can/cannot be put in the bin for recycling.

See what each state and territory government is doing here.

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