National phase-out problem single use plastics now on the cards

Commonwealth, State and Territory Environment Ministers have, at last, formally supported the phase-out certain single use, problem plastics. Their list for phase-out includes lightweight plastics bags, oxo-degradable plastics, straws, cutlery and expanded polystyrene packaging and containers and plastic microbeads before 2025. (MEM Communique 15 April 2021)

The announcement puts pressure on the three jurisdictions who have yet to act on these single-use plastic items, NSW, the NT and Tasmania. NSW despite promising to do so over a year ago, has not even banned lightweight plastic bags

South Australia, Queensland, the ACT, Western Australia and Victoria have either passed laws or have proposed bans on these products. They have signalled their intentions to add many other problem plastics such as heavyweight plastic bags, coffee cups and other plastics in the future.

In the MEM Communique, Environment Ministers also support the harmonisation of container deposit schemes in Australia. Every States and Territory will have a CDS by 2023, harmonisation will make it easier to improve these schemes by adding other products for possible refunds, such as wine bottles, and increasing return rates in the future.