Wildlife Queensland took over the Plastic Bag Free Queensland campaign from Queensland Conservation Council in January 2015 and with our colleagues, the Boomerang Alliance, who focused on a container refund scheme for bottles and cans, set about lobbying for both a plastic bag ban and container refund scheme.
Plastic bag ban
Key Date: Ban on all lightweight plastic bags introduced in Queensland, July 2018
With a new commitment to introduce a bag ban coming from the ALP Government in 2015, Wildlife Queensland ran a political lobbying and community awareness campaign to get plastic bags banned as soon as possible.
- We developed policies, adopted by national groups.
- We promoted and presented at a number of forums.
- We supported a Government discussion paper on a ban that received over 26,000 submissions, with the vast majority supporting a ban.
- We lobbied all political parties to get full support for the introduction of a ban.
In November 2016, Wildlife Queensland spoke at the announcement by the LNP Opposition to support the proposed ban and backed this up a week later when the State Government announced the introduction of a ban on lightweight plastic bags (including compostable and biodegradable bags).
The ban was formally introduced in Queensland in July 2018.
- In the first full year of the ban, Queensland reduced its 1 billion bags per year use to virtually zero.
- According to the major supermarkets, 7 out of 10 shoppers switches to BYO bags.
- Plastic bag litter was reduced by an estimated 70 per cent.
Wildlife Queensland is continuing campaigning to get thicker plastic bags banned and is working for a national phase-out of these items in 2020.
Container refund scheme
Key Date: Container refund scheme introduced in Queensland, November 2018
Wildlife Queensland backed the Boomerang Alliance campaign for container deposits, in parallel with our plastic bag campaign. We helped bankroll a public campaign in key coastal communities on the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Cairns and Central Queensland that sent a very clear message to politicians about the level of public support for a scheme.
In 2017, the State Government introduced legislation to ban lightweight plastic bags and introduce a container refund scheme into Queensland in 2018. The bill was passed unanimously. A container refund scheme was introduced in Queensland in November 2018.
In its first year, the container refund scheme has:
- collected over 1 billion containers
- created over 700 jobs
- reduced container litter by 35 per cent.
Over 2000 community groups participate in collections, adding to their fundraising.
Find out more about the Container Refund Scheme and how you can donate your refund to help our native wildlife.
Key Date: Local Government Association of Queensland votes to support a ban on helium balloon releases, October 2018. State Government confirms helium balloon releases are an act of littering
Wildlife Queensland has continuously lobbied for a legislated ban on the deliberate release of helium balloons.
- We have published reports and been a regular public voice in the media.
- In 2015, we made headlines with our complaint about balloon releases at the EKKKA.
In 2017, the State Government confirmed that the deliberate release of helium balloons was an act of littering.
We also helped draft a motion by Brisbane City Council that led to the local government association voting to support a call for a state ban on helium balloon releases. This has been backed by many local governments imposing a ban on the practice.
Key Date: Advice to all schools about plastic-free fetes and helium balloons distributed by Wildlife Queensland in July 2017
To help schools transition to plastic-free fetes and reduce single-use plastics, Wildlife Queensland drafted guidelines for use by all schools. In 2017 these were distributed to all schools in the State, along with specific advice on helium balloon releases (pdf).
Whilst we have not monitored the effect of our materials, it is clear that many schools have got the message and both P&Cs and teachers are now actively taking steps to make their schools and their school fetes plastic-free.
Phasing out single-use plastics
Key Date: Queensland announces phase-out of certain single-use plastics in November 2019
Our next agenda has been focused on single-use plastic takeaway items. Items such as straws, cutlery, containers and cups. These still represent about 36 per cent of all litter in Queensland and remain a significant waste problem. Wildlife Queensland continues to back the Boomerang Alliance Plastic Free Places campaign to phase these out and has supported the campaign to get the State Government to act.
In November 2019, the State Government released it’s Plastic Pollution Reduction Plan that included proposals to introduce a legislated ban on plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery and plates in 2020 and, after further investigation, coffee cups, other plastic items and heavyweight plastic bags.
In early 2000, the Queensland Government invited feedback on the Single-Use Plastic Items Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) – developed to evaluate banning the sale or supply of particular single-use plastic products in Queensland.
Wildlife Queensland supported a ban on single-use plastics in Queensland.
The consultation period ended 30 April 2020 and the State Government has reported that over 19,500 submissions and surveys were received. This included 600 individual submissions. Over 90 per cent of responses supported a ban on single-use plastics.
Key Date: Queensland Government tables legislation to ban plastic takeaway straws, stirrers, cutlery, plates and bowls, 15 July 2020
Queensland is the second state, after South Australia, to introduce legislation to ban these products. When passed it will mean these products will not be sold or provided in Queensland after July 2021. An exemption for those with disabilities having access to products they need, and for products that are certified compostable to the Australian Standard, has been included.
With South Australia and the ACT, Queensland is leading the national policy debate to get rid of these problematic plastic takeaway items.
Key Date: Ban on single-use plastics gains momentum as Queensland introduces ban, 3 December 2020
The Queensland Government has introduced legislation to ban plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery and plates/bowls in Queensland. Subject to consultation, it will include expanded polystyrene (foam) cups and clamshell containers. We are optimistic the legislation should be passed in February 2021, as all political parties have previously voiced support.
Queensland is the second State in Australia to introduce a ban on these items after South Australia passed legislation in September.
Key Date: Queensland bans plastic takeaway items, 11 March 2021
In an historic decision, the Queensland Parliament unanimously passed the Waste Reduction and Recycling (Plastic Items) Amendment Bill 2020 today to ban certain single-use plastics from use. From 1 September 2021 plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, plates and bowls and expanded polystyrene cups and containers will be banned.
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.
Wildlife Queensland continues to campaign to get rid of problem plastics, particularly those that end up as litter and threaten both wildlife and habitat.
Resources and publications
Brochures & flyers
Reports, submissions & guidelines
- Café Guide on Reusable Takeaway under COVID-19 (pdf)
- Plastic Free Council Events Guidelines (QLD) (pdf)
- Plastic Free Council & Community Events Guidelines (pdf)
- Plastic Free Event Vendor Guide (pdf)
- Waste Signage – request template
- QLD Plastic Pollution Reduction Plan (pdf)
- WPSQ’s submission on discussion paper: Implementing a lightweight plastic shopping bag ban in Queensland
- Plastic Bag Ban (pdf)
- Container Refund Scheme (pdf)
- The Rubbish State (pdf)
- What is Cash for Containers? (pdf)
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Authorised by Des Boyland, Policies and Campaigns Manager, Wildlife Queensland, Suite 1, Level 1, 30 Gladstone Road, Highgate Hill, Brisbane, Qld 4101.