Queenslanders poised to decide the future of single-use plastics

Queenslanders have until tomorrow, April 15 to consult with the government on a state-wide ban on single use plastic that will initially focus on straws, drink stirrers, cutlery and plates.

The Government said it has been seeking feedback from Queenslanders and businesses on the proposed bans to ensure an understanding of the impact it may have, consider everyone’s needs and develop the best plan for transitioning to a future free from plastic waste.

Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch said single-use plastic was an increasing problem damaging the environment and marine life and Queenslanders were looking for a positive solution.

Comprehensive perspectives

“It’s time to decide the future of single-use plastics in Queensland. Plastic pollution in our environment affects every aspect of our lives – from the water we drink and the food we consume, to the plants, animals and outdoor places we all love and enjoy,” Enoch said.

“We are looking to limit and, where necessary, ban the supply of most single-use plastic products starting with straws, stirrers, plates, cutlery and cups.”

According to Enoch, the government wants to ensure everyone’s perspectives on single-use plastics has been heard. She said that it wanted to guarantee that the needs of people with a disability and the aged care sector are taken into account.

“Our government has already taken steps to reduce plastic with the ban on single-use plastics bags and the introduction of Containers for Change. Those initiatives have seen hundreds of millions of individual plastic products kept from entering the environment, and now we’re looking ahead, she said.

Banning specific products

Enoch explained that the Queensland Government’s Plastic Pollution Reduction Plan, released in 2019, committed to introducing enabling legislation in 2020, subject to consultation, to ban the supply of specific plastic products. She added that the next step was to consider other forms of single-use items such as coffee cups, heavyweight plastic shopping bags and polystyrene containers.

Queensland Disability Advisory Council chair Sharon Boyce said many within the disability community relied heavily on straws.

“This is a conversation our community welcomes – how those of us with high needs can find a practical solution to plastic straws,” she said.

Queenslanders, stakeholders and the community are encouraged to provide feedback by visiting www.qld.gov.au/reducingplastic.

Enoch confirmed that all submissions will be considered as the government shapes new legislation that helps move the state towards a zero-waste economy by 2050.

WRIAQ and state government unite to secure industry safety

A decree to make WARR confirmed as an essential service has been implemented following a direct request to the state government from the Waste Recycling Industry Association Queensland (WRIAQ).

In its submission, WRIAQ stated that it was critical that the sector maintain a secure supply chain and mitigated risk from any potential additional community health and environmental issues associated with uncollected wastes and recyclables.

In late March, Minister for Innovation, Science and the Digital Economy and Minister for Small Business Leeanne Enoch, confirmed that cabinet had agreed to that request.

Co-operative engagement

According to WRIAQ CEO Rick Ralph, Queensland remains one of only two states, along with South Australia, where a state government has made this decree.

“Additionally, we have also convened a weekly high level meeting with DES including having a Queensland Health representative on board to facilitate and share industry issues on an ongoing basis. It is now agreed that a separate recyclers meeting will also go ahead,” Ralph said.

 “We trust that this may provide a positive view of the genuine attempt by our regulator to work in partnership with us,” he added.