Queensland's Single-Use Plastics Ban Will Come Into Effect on September 1

It'll cover single-use straws, stirrers, cutlery and plates, as well as polystyrene foam food containers and cups.
Sarah Ward
Published on March 11, 2021

After introducing a container refund scheme and scrapping disposable plastic bags, Queensland is ramping up its war on waste once again. As first proposed in 2019, then floated by the community in 2020, the Sunshine State is implementing a ban on single-use plastics — with legislation passing Queensland Parliament on Wednesday, March 10.

In the immediate crosshairs are plastic straws, cutlery, plates and stirrers, which will all be banned from September 1, 2021 under the Waste Reduction and Recycling (Plastic Items) Amendment Act 2020. Polystyrene foam food containers and cups will fall under the legislation as well, so you won't be using them when spring hits, either.

Crucial to the ban is the existence of already-available alternatives, whether they're reusable (in the case of cutlery and plates) or 100-percent compostable (as seen with paper straws and stirrers). For people with disability, some alternative products to plastic — such as bamboo, paper and metal straws — aren't always a viable option. The legislation does include exemptions for people with disability, or with other relevant healthcare needs, who require access to one of the banned single-use plastic items.

Announcing the legislation's passage, Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Youth Affairs Meaghan Scanlon advised that the move had widespread support across Queensland. "During our community consultation stage, from March last year, some 94 percent of the 20,000 respondents supported our proposal to ban these items. In addition, our latest online survey, which concluded on January 15, also supported the inclusion in the ban of expanded polystyrene products such as takeaway food containers and cups — with an overwhelming 98 percent of 6800 respondents in favour of removing them from our environment."

During the consultation phase, a number of other single-use items were identified by respondents, which may be covered by the ban at a later date. They could include coffee cups, plastic cups and heavy-weight plastic shopping bags, which were all identified by the Qld Government as potential targets when it first announced that it was investigating a single-use plastic ban.

"This legislation also makes provision for more single-use items to be banned through regulation in the future,"said Scanlon. "There were many suggestions for other items that could be prohibited which we will now consider. We will conduct extensive public consultation and give business and the community time to transition before any further bans are introduced".

Similar laws just came into effect in South Australia, Victoria has set a 2023 deadline for implementing a single-use plastic ban as well and, as a nation, Australia has floated banning all non-recyclable packaging by 2025. And, that's on top of smaller-scale initiatives, not only including bag bans and container schemes, but the phasing out of single-use plastics in various guises at the company level, with Coles, McDonald's, IKEACoca-Cola Amatil and Qantas among those making steps in the plastic-free direction.

For more information about the Queensland Government's single-use plastics ban, head to the government's website.

Published on March 11, 2021 by Sarah Ward
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