As we reported in March the coronavirus has taken a toll on plastic and waste reductions with the waste industry estimating a 20% increase in waste going to landfill, including extra plastics. That also means extra plastic litter in our environments.
With many cafes refusing BYO coffee cups and concentrating on takeaway-only, the use of disposable plastic packaging also increased. The good news is that things seem to have stabilised now, and one good thing coming from the pandemic is a greater awareness about plastic pollution and the need to continue to change our bad plastic habits.
Most action on single-use plastics tends to be taken by the States and Territories. To date all States and Territories, bar NSW (and this has been promised) have banned lightweight plastic bags. All States and Territories, bar Victoria and Tasmania (and both are planning to introduce) have a container deposit scheme operating. The Western Australian scheme will formally start on 1 October.
Tackling plastic bags and container litter and waste was a first step. The next obvious step is dealing with other problem plastics, starting with takeaway plastic products.
Our Plastic Round Up: What’s been happening around the country in the last few months
South Australia has now introduced its plastic legislation with the government hoping it will pass through Parliament in September. The bill bans plastic straws, stirrers and cutlery and includes polystyrene cups, bowls, plates and containers. The intention is to have these products banned at the end of 2020.
Queensland tabled legislation in June to ban plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, plates and bowls. The government hopes to have the legislation passed before October so that these items are banned by July 2021
The Australian Capital Territory became the third jurisdiction to act when the government released an exposure draft of legislation to ban plastic stirrers, cutlery and polystyrene cups and containers. The legislation should be tabled in September.
New South Wales released a public consultation paper on single use plastics in March. Over 15,000 submissions were received. Boomerang Alliance hopes to see similar legislation to the other jurisdictions announced this year.
Western Australia went through a public consultation on single use plastics in 2019. We are expecting an announcement this year on legislation.
Victoria is behind other States when it comes to addressing single-use plastics. A plastic bag ban is now in place, with a container deposit scheme set to be introduced in 2022/3. However, there is still no word on other single-use plastics.
Tasmania acted early on lightweight plastic bags. A container deposit scheme is currently being designed to be introduced in 2022/3. Hobart City has acted to ban certain single use plastics, bit nothing at a State level yet.
The Northern Territory introduced both a plastic bag ban and was the second jurisdiction to introduce a container deposit scheme, in 2013. We are unaware of any planned policies on other single use plastics yet
The Boomerang Alliance is directly involved with all these jurisdictions. We want to see all problem single-use plastics either avoided and reduced, reused, composted or recycled.
You can check out our Zero Plastic Pollution campaign on the website. This outlines our complete agenda on single-use plastics.