Industry News

ACT government proposes total ban on single-use plastics

It’s now been several years since the ACT banned single-use plastic shopping bags, and now the government continues on its war on plastic waste with a new proposal for a territory-wide ban on the use of ALL single-use plastics.

Under the new proposal, ACT minister for city services Chris Steel wants to ban coffee cups, plastic cutlery, cups, straws, lightweight plastic bags, takeaway containers and cotton buds.

The government aims to have 90 per cent of waste being diverted from landfill by 2025, and Steel believes a broader approach to single-use plastic is a logical approach to achieve that goal.

“Our fondness for single-use plastic, such as plastic cutlery, cups, straws, packaging and lightweight plastic bags, has grown considerably,” Steel said.

“It is estimated that 10 million straws are used in Australia every day and can take up to 200 years to degrade into micro-particles. Plastic straws used today will outlive your children’s, children’s children.

“Single-use plastics, including but not limited to lightweight plastic bags, are an issue of both public and environmental concern. We think looking at a ban is a good approach, but of course we want to hear from business and the community about how we best do that.”

Last year’s review into the government’s plastic bag ban found that it had reduced plastic use in the territory, but raised questions over thicker plastic reusable bags, as well as compostable and cotton alternatives.

The report concluded that the ban has had a marked impact on the territory’s consumption of single-use plastic bags, but that plastic consumption appears to be gradually returning to the levels seen prior to the ban’s introduction.

“Plastic bags have become a symbol of Canberra’s throwaway society and one of the benefits of banning plastic bags was to raise community awareness of broader environmental and sustainability issues,” Steel added.

“These changes will require a lot of analysis, but it’s clear the community is telling us they don’t understand why many of these products are still being used.”

Although a list of what plastics would be affected hasn’t yet been released, in the coming months the ACT government will be releasing a discussion paper to better gauge community feedback around the proposal and will launch an information paper on moving beyond single-use plastics.

“Obviously, this would have an impact on business, so we need to consult with them around the implementation of a ban or any other measure we should consider,” Steel said.

“I want the ACT community, businesses and industries to tell us how the ACT should address single-use plastics. We will consult with the community on banning these products or taking alternative regulatory or other measures.”