NSW is now starting to catch up with other states with legislation introduced into Parliament this week to ban a range of single use plastic items and it's a welcome move.
The ban on lightweight plastic bags and definition of plastic is probably the most advanced in Australia, having learnt the lessons from other attempts which left loopholes. Items that will also be banned in 2022 include cutlery, polystyrene bowls and straws – all of which feature in litter; are single use wasting resources; and for which there are less damaging alternatives.
Nevertheless there are some other items like heavyweight bags and plastic plates that according to the government will have to wait several years. This will put NSW again at the back of the pack.
An interesting inclusion in the Bill is new product stewardship powers that could be applied to packaging and cigarette butts. However, a packaging regime is only applied if the business is not a member of the Australian Packaging Covenant, the voluntary industry scheme that has failed to meet its targets every time. It would be much better if the new powers were applied to uplift all producers and users of plastic packaging that is not recycled or fails to contain significant recycled content.
The Boomerang Alliance will be closely examining the Bill’s provisions in coming days.