City of Hobart councillors have voted 8-4 in favour of a new by-law to ban all single-use plastics, including straws and utensils, and imposing fines on those that don’t comply – a move that could see Hobart become the nation’s first capital city to ban the waste stream by 2020.
The ban would apply to any business that provides or sells takeaway food. This means that plastic containers, straws, coffee cups and plastic lids would all be prohibited under the changes. Businesses within the Hobart municipality will need to start taking action in phasing single-use plastics and moving towards reusable or compostable packaging.
Councillor Bill Harvey, who led the push for the ban to be implemented, said Hobart City Council had set the bar for other local governments to follow suit.
“What that says is that we’re serious about leading by example and we’re a council that takes the initiative, that makes bold decisions, and this is one of those decisions that will have impacts for councils across Australia,” Harvey told ABC News.
“We’ve set a precedent that now hopefully many other councils will follow. This will add to the way people perceive Hobart across the world as a city that cares about the environment and its people.”
However, Robert Mallett, CEO of the Tasmanian Small Business Council, was concerned for small businesses, saying the strategy would be better adopted by the state government, similar to the 2013 plastic bag ban.
“That was done in a coordinated and well-managed event by the Tasmanian government and I see no reason why they couldn’t do something similar,” Mallett told ABC News.
“For individual councils to try and pick off this and be seen as greener or something than the next one is completely ridiculous. While I am not against banning single-use plastics, the cost of changing to more expensive products would put some Hobart businesses at a disadvantage.
“I don’t think it will be too difficult to transition, but it would definitely be more costly which then puts Hobart businesses at a price disadvantage against some of their neighbours at Kingborough, Glenorchy or Clarence.
“To make it a law and to have somebody like the Hobart City Council demand that this occur is just smacks of arrogance in many ways.”
The by-law won’t come into effect until later this year or early 2020, with a few hurdles still needing to be passed and the statutory process unlikely to wrap up for at least the next six to nine months.
The decision will now be put to the Director of Local Government for further consideration, then a public consultation period for 21 days, before council eventually enacts the new by-law.