ACT, Industry News, News, Waste & Resource Recovery

ACT government releases discussion paper on banning certain single-use products

A Phasing Out Single-Use Plastics discussion paper has been released by the ACT government after thousands of people and organisations showed support for removing problematic single-use plastics from the state.

In later October, Minister for Recycling and Waste Reduction Chris Steel announced the release of a consultation summary from the discussion paper, which during the consultation period resulted in 3300 interactions, including survey responses, submissions and attendance at information sessions.

There were more than 2770 completed community survey responses and a separate government survey of the general community was undertaken.

Steel said that Canberra residents strongly held the view that action needs to be taken to phase-out single-use plastics with a transition to readily available alternatives.

“We benchmarked the results of the consultation, and [there] were high levels of support for action across both the general community and those who responded to directly to the consultation.

“Importantly the huge majority of the community supports strong government regulatory action to ban problematic and unnecessary single-use plastics, rather than just non-regulatory responses,” Steel said.

He explained that while many people wanted to see certain single-use plastics phased out, they also understood that a pragmatic approach would need to be taken to plastic products where there are not well-developed alternatives.

The ACT government is already working on the next steps in developing its policy response to phasing out single-use plastics, which requires careful consideration of the impact phasing out certain products could have for some people. For example, plastic straws are needed by some people with a disability.

Similar to steps taken by the South Australian government, the ACT government ensured that the consultation period included discussions with disability advocate groups, in order to determine their stance on the matter.

In early July, the South Australian government announced it is drafting legalisation for public discussion to ban items such as plastic straws, cutlery, and stirrers by 2020. The release of Turning the Tide on Single Use Plastics: The Next Step plan pushes for an initial ban on single-use plastic utensils followed by a range of other products, such as takeaway polystyrene containers and cups, to be considered for future intervention following further consultation.

Steel said the ACT government has been following movement in South Australia, and where possible it will aim to take a coordinated policy approach with other jurisdictions that are phasing out single-use plastics.

Results of the people that responded to the consultation community survey in ACT:

  • 94 per cent support a phase out of polystyrene;
  • 93 per cent support a phase out of plastic stirrers and straws;
  • 92 per cent support a phase out of plastic lined coffee cups or lids;
  • 91 per cent support a phase out of plastic cutlery;
  • 91 per cent support a phase out of plastic plates and cups;
  • 85 per cent support a phase out of lightweight fruit and barrier bags; and
  • 87 per cent support a phase out of takeaway food containers.

Of the ACT residents that responded to the general community survey:

  • 77 per cent supported banning single-use plastic straws;
  • 71 per cent supported banning plastic-lined takeaway coffee cups;
  • 68 per cent supported banning single-use plastic takeaway containers; and
  • 58 per cent supported banning thicker plastic bags.