South Australia Is Set to Become the First Australian State to Ban Single-Use Plastics

It'll start with phasing out plastic straws, cutlery and stirrers, before moving on to takeaway polystyrene containers and cups.
Sarah Ward
Published on July 06, 2019

The war on waste isn't just about banning plastic shopping bagsrecycling plastic drink containers, phasing out plastic straws and finding alternatives to disposable coffee cups. That's a great start, but humanity's reliance upon single-use plastics includes cutlery, plates, stirrers, cotton buds and more. Europe has committed to stop using such items by 2021, building upon similar decisions in the UK and France, while Australia is working towards banning all non-recyclable packaging by 2025 — but one Aussie state is now taking matters into its own hands.

As originally revealed earlier this year, the South Australian government has been exploring the possibility of implementing its own ban on single-use plastic items. After a consultation period — which followed the initial proposal by SA Environment Minister David Speirs, who released two discussion papers and called for for public feedback — the plan is progressing towards legislation. The government will now draft applicable laws for further community input, with the aim of introducing them to parliament in 2020. If they're enacted, it'll become the first Australian state to take the step.

SA Premier Steven Marshall has outlined the proposed ban, which'll occur across multiple phases. At present, the government is trialling plastic-free precincts. When the legislation comes into effect, plastic straws, cutlery and stirrers will be phased out immediately, then takeaway polystyrene containers and cups will follow 12 months later. As for takeaway coffee cups, plastic bags and other takeaway food service, further investigation and consultation will be undertaken before eradicating them from circulation.

South Australians want action on single-use plastics.And we’re going to take action.From the commencement of new...

Posted by Steven Marshall on Friday, 5 July 2019

SA was the first state in the country with a container refund scheme, introducing its 10-cent refund for eligible items back in 1977 — and causing an entire generation of interstate dwellers to grow up making jokes about driving a haul of cans and bottles to Adelaide to collect some cash. It was also the first state to phase out lightweight plastic bags, a move that came into effect in 2009. In comparison, New South Wales only brought in container refunds in 2017 and is yet to commit to banning single-use plastic bags. Victoria doesn't have a container refund scheme on the horizon, but will phase out plastic bags this November. And Queensland enacted both container refunds and a plastic bag ban in 2018.

While action at a government level continues to take its time across the country — apart from in Hobart, where takeaway containers will be banned either late this year or early next year — companies and venues have been stepping in themselves. McDonalds will remove plastic straws from its packaging by 2020, IKEA is phasing out single-use plastics by the same year, Melbourne's Crown Casino is cutting down its plastic usage, the Queen Victoria Market is banning plastic bags and straws and Coca-Cola Amatil is also getting rid of plastic straws from 115,000 Aussie venues. In the skies, Portuguese charter airline Hi Fly is committed to becoming the world's first single-use plastic free airline by the end of 2019, while Qantas is eradicating 100 million single-use plastic items from its flights and lounges each year from 2020 onwards.

Published on July 06, 2019 by Sarah Ward
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