Feeling confused about bans on single-use plastic in Australia? Each Australian state and territory has taken steps to reduce plastic use in its own unique ways. Let’s look at the various State laws, the changes coming your way, and how they will affect you, based on where you live:
When ban kicked in: 1 March 2019
What it covers: Single-use plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, bottles and bags.
What’s next? The subsequent measures come into effect on 1 March 2022, when they will also ban polystyrene food and beverage containers.
When ban kicks in: 1 September 2021
What it covers: Single-use plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, plates and bowls.
When ban kicked in: 1 July 2021
What it covers: Single-use plastic cutlery
What’s next? As of 1 July 2022, polystyrene food and beverage containers will be banned from being sold starting and the use of single-use plastic straws, fruit and veggie barrier bags, and degradable plastics.
When ban kicked in: The Western Australia Government has committed to banning plastic plates, bowls, cups, cutlery, stirrers, straws, thick plastic bags, polystyrene food containers, and helium balloon releases by 2022.
What’s next? Stage two will be completed by 2023. In this phase, they will place restrictions on takeaway coffee packaging, plastic bags, plastic cotton buds, polystyrene packaging, microbeads and oxo-degradable plastics.
When ban kicks in: February 2023
What it covers: Single-use plastic straws, cutlery, plates, stirrers, polystyrene food and drink containers, and plastic cotton bud sticks. They have also included oxo-degradable plastics in the ban.
When bank kicks in: 2022
What it covers: Single-use plastic bags, stirrers, straws and cutlery.
Tasmania & Northern Territory
Both the Northern Territory and Tasmania states have taken no action on single-use plastics.
National Government Commitments
· Australia’s National Packaging Targets set a goal to phase out single-use plastics by 2025.
· On 15 April 2021, ministers set a voluntary target under the National Waste Policy Action Plan to phase out lightweight plastic bags, straws, utensils and stirrers, EPS consumer food containers and consumer goods packaging and microbeads in personal health care products. They include products misleadingly labelled as degradable in the plan.
· Under the National Plastics Plan, the Commonwealth Government has committed to phasing out:
1. Loose-fill and moulded polystyrene packaging by July 2022.
2. Expanded polystyrene foodware, oxo-degradable plastics, and PVC packaging labels by December 2022.
We’ve come a long way in understanding the damage that single-use plastics cause. The future looks bright with these resolutions coming into play over the next few years.
What the ban means for you
With the bold changes in place, the shift to sustainable alternatives to single-use plastics needs to be in focus for all Australian businesses. The food industry has been at the forefront of the change, with many making environmentally friendly choices with products made from pulp, palm leaf and other sustainable materials. Compostable food containers and cutlery, and PLA containers and cups are simple ways to make the switch.