New South Wales Is Set to Start Banning Single-Use Plastics From 2022
Plastic bags, straws, cutlery, stirrers and polystyrene containers will be among the first items phased out, with more to follow by 2025.
More than a year ago, the New South Wales Government finally announced that it will ban lightweight single-use plastic bags, becoming the last Australian state or territory to do so. By 2022, that plan is set to come into effect — and, as part of a newly revealed strategy to combat both waste and plastic, it's set to be followed by a range of other just-announced initiatives.
Get ready to farewell single-use plastics in plenty of forms — such as straws, cutlery, stirrers and polystyrene containers, too — because they've all just been given an expiry date. A six-month timeline has been put on phasing out lightweight single-use plastic bags, which means that they'll be out of action when 2022 hits. Meanwhile, straws, stirrers, cutlery, polystyrene containers, cotton buds with plastic sticks and microbeads in toiletries are all set to be scrapped within 12 months.
The bans form part of the NSW Waste and Sustainable Materials Strategy and NSW Plastics Action Plan, both of which were announced on Sunday, June 13. Premier Gladys Berejiklian revealed that the NSW Government will spend more than $356 million over the next five years to implement the new plans, with consultations now set to take place, and legislation and regulations expected to be submitted to parliament in the next few months.
The Plastics Action Plan also targets plastic bowls, plates, cups and their lids; non-compostable fruit stickers; and heavyweight plastic shopping bans, all of which are set to be banned within three years — so, by 2025. In fact, getting rid of all problematic and unnecessary plastics by 2025 is the key aim.
"The single-use items we are phasing-out will stop an estimated 2.7 billion items of plastic litter from ending up in our environment and waterways over the next 20 years," said Environment Minister Matt Kean.
Crucial to the plan 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. That said, exemptions will be available for sections of the community that aren't able to use alternative products to plastic, such as the aged care sector and people with disability.
Also part of the ban: helping small businesses transition to new non-plastic products, as well as education campaigns to get everyone onboard. Plus, single-use plastics aren't the only items being targeted in NSW's war on waste. By 2030, the state's residents will also get new green bins for food scraps and organic materials — and by 2025, large supermarkets and hospitality businesses that produce significant amounts of food waste will need to have their organic scraps collected separately from their other garbage.
Overall, NSW is aiming to reduce the total amount of waste generated per person by 10 percent by 2030, reduce litter by 60 percent by the same time, and triple the rate of plastic recycling by then, too.
Similar laws regarding single-use plastics have already come into effect in South Australia, while Queensland's ban will kick in on September 1, 2021 — and Victoria has set a 2023 target date. As a nation, Australia is set to phase out a heap of single-use plastic items by 2025 as well. 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, IKEA, Coca-Cola Amatil and Qantas among those making steps in the plastic-free direction.
You can read more about the New South Wales' proposed single-use plastics ban via the NSW Environmental Protection Authority's website.
Published on June 14, 2021 by Sarah Ward