- States ban microplastic sources such as cotton bud sticks and microbeads
- Queensland to ban balloon releases, yet NSW and ACT still allow it
- Tasmania is trailing all jurisdictions with no plan to ban single-use plastics
- Soft plastics and food & beverage packaging still a big issue, representing nearly 70% of plastic found in ocean cleanup surveys
Queensland, South Australian and Western Australia are leading in the race to ban single-use plastics, introducing further bans on single-use plastic items from 1 September that will help protect our marine life, the Australian Marine Conservation (AMCS) said today.
All three states are banning plastic cotton bud sticks, while Queensland and WA are banning loose-fill polystyrene packing materials and microbeads found in personal care and cleaning products, which are all sources of easily digested microplastics.
Queensland will ban thick plastic shopping bags and mass balloon releases, leaving New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory the only jurisdictions permitting mass releases of balloons, which usually end up in our waterways and oceans, choking marine life and birds.
While NSW and VIC have also banned single-use plastics, they have not yet announced plans to expand their bans to include items such as thick plastic shopping bags, expanded polystyrene packaging and coffee cups containing plastic. Tasmania is trailing all jurisdictions by a long way with no plan to ban single-use plastics.
AMCS Plastics Campaign Manager Shane Cucow said: “Plastic cotton bud sticks, microbeads in personal care and cleaning products and expanded polystyrene are key sources of microplastics, slipping through filtration systems and easily washing out into our oceans.
“Expanded polystyrene is particularly problematic. It’s lightweight and comprised mostly of air, and it easily fragments and blows away into our oceans where it is easily ingested by turtles and seabirds.
“These bans were made possible by thousands of ocean lovers who demanded politicians take action to stem the flow of plastic into our oceans, which is set to triple by 2040 if we don’t take decisive action.
“In the past five years, Australia has become a leader in banning single-use plastics, with other nations now looking to us for inspiration as the world considers a global register of banned plastics as part of a proposed treaty to end plastic pollution.
“As Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia compete for first place in the race to ban single-use plastics, implementing their second and third tranches of banned plastics, Tasmania has been left in the dust with no plan at all. Tasmania’s waters are important feeding grounds for species such as our endangered leatherback turtles, which are known to be at high risk of ingesting plastics.
“The piecemeal nature of the bans across the states shows the need for Australia’s states and territories to come together and agree on a roadmap to harmonise the bans. The roadmap needs to be ambitious and should include items regularly found in our oceans and highly likely to be ingested by wildlife such as thick plastic shopping bags, pre-packaged straws and cutlery, released balloons and expanded polystyrene.”
Additional plastic items banned from 1 September 2023
AMCS’s updated plastics scorecard
For a PDF or JPEG of the scorecards visit here