Media Release Plastic Pollution

ACT's new plastics ban will save seabirds and marine animals

March 30, 2021

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has welcomed the passage of laws that will ban the use of single-use plastic cutlery, drink stirrers and polystyrene food and beverage containers in the Australian Capital Territory.

The ban will commence on 1 July 2021 and will help to save fish, seabirds and marine animals from death or injury.

The ACT Government has indicated the next tranche of the ban is expected to commence on 1 July 2022, and include single‑use plastic straws (with exemptions for those who need them), single-use plastic barrier bags (used for items like fresh produce, meat, deli and seafood), and all products made from degradable plastic.

From 1 July 2023, the ACT Government has said they will consider the phase out of other problematic single-use plastic products such as plastic-lined single-use coffee cups and lids, single-use plastic dinnerware, boutique or heavyweight plastic bags, and cotton ear buds with plastic sticks.

AMCS plastics spokesperson Shane Cucow said the new laws were vital and welcomed the government’s commitment to include straws in 2022.

“We congratulate the ACT Government for becoming the third Australian state or territory to ban single-use plastics, giving our ocean wildlife hope for the future.

“In particular, we thank the ACT Government for listening to ocean lovers and committing to add straws and produce bags to the ban in 2022, pending further consultation.

“Straws and soft plastic bags are some of the most notorious killers of seabirds, turtles and marine mammals, causing life threatening blockages or internal injuries when eaten,” he said.

“With safe, earth friendly alternatives available it is time to put our wildlife first and ditch these killer plastics.”

Mr Cucow said eyes were now on states like New South Wales, which is the biggest producer of plastic pollution.

“With South Australia, Queensland, the ACT, plus Victoria and Western Australia all working to ban these killer plastics, it is time for our most populous state to step up to the plate,” he said.

“Every day we wait, we lose more animal lives. It’s time to stop the tide of plastic flowing into our oceans.”

NSW has recently finished public consultations that canvassed the idea of a ban on single-use plastics. They are yet to announce their plans.

Notes to editors

Australia’s National Packaging Targets set a goal to phase out problematic single-use plastics by 2025.

South Australia’s ban on single-use plastics commenced on 1 March 2021, banning plastic cutlery, straws and drink stirrers. Details here.

Queensland’s ban was passed into law just weeks ago, with the ban commencing on 1 September 2021. Their ban will outlaw plastic straws, drink stirrers, cutlery, polystyrene food & beverage containers, and single-use plastic plates and bowls. Details here.

The WA Government has committed to phase out single-use plastic plates, straws, cutlery, drink stirrers, heavyweight plastic bags, polystyrene food containers and helium balloon releases by 2023. Details here.

The Victorian government recently announced they will move to ban angle use plastics by February 2023, including single-use plastic straws, cutlery, plates, drink stirrers, polystyrene food and drink containers, and plastic cotton bud sticks. In correspondence with AMCS, the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning has confirmed oxo-degradable plastics will also be included in the ban.

The New South Wales Government recently completed public consultations that canvassed the idea of a ban on single-use plastics. They are yet to announce their plans.

Tasmania and the Northern Territory have made no commitments to ban single-use plastics.