Restaurants should stop serving in disposable foodware

Dine-in restaurants in Australia should be banned from serving food and drink in disposable packaging.

This measure to eliminate waste and plastic pollution has just been introduced in France and soon the UK, and we should promptly follow suit as Australia ramps up its actions on waste and pollution. Consumers eating in restaurants, in particular in fast food outlets, should receive their food in reusable plates, bowls, cups and utensils that can be repeatedly washed and used by those restaurants.

This should be a first step towards making reusable foodware more commonplace. Next must be to provide reusable cups and containers for takeaway customers.

With Australian governments committed to phasing out all unnecessary and problematic plastic packaging by 2025, the ban will be a key measure at both the restaurant service level and to influence consumer attitudes to disposable packaging. A ban should be introduced by 1 January 2024.

EU nations are speeding ahead with a range of effective actions on single use packaging and Australia needs to catch up.


International Policy Actions

In the European Union, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) schemes are proposed for single use plastic packaging. These include requirements on producers to cover the costs of the education, collection, transport, and treatment of single use plastic packaging by 2024.

Many EU countries (and other regions) are taking further steps as part of the EU Directive on Single Use Plastics. Here is a snapshot of new policies.