Australia’s leading ocean conservation group has welcomed the commencement of Queensland’s ban on single-use plastic, congratulating the state government for tackling the plastic pollution crisis at the source.
As of 1 September, single-use plastic straws, drink stirrers, cutlery, plates, bowls and polystyrene food service items are banned in the state. Queensland is the first state to ban single-use plastic plates and bowls.
Queensland joins South Australia and the ACT as jurisdictions with active bans on single-use plastics. Western Australia’s ban is due to commence at the end of the year.
Further products will be considered for prohibition in coming years, including coffee cups, takeaway food containers and heavyweight plastic bags.
The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has heralded today as the beginning of a new plastic free era in the sunshine state.
“From today, Queensland’s beautiful coasts and oceans will be a little bit safer for our turtles, whales and seabirds,” said Shane Cucow, Plastics Campaign Manager at the AMCS.
“By cracking down on unrecyclable plastics like straws and cutlery, commonly found in waterways, the Queensland government is stopping this problem at the source.
“Critically, Queensland is the first state to outlaw single-use plastic plates and bowls, stepping ahead of jurisdictions like South Australia and the ACT.
“Earlier this year, we saw sickening reports of dead and sick baby turtles washing up on Queensland beaches after swallowing plastic.
“Sharp, highly likely to be contaminated and commonly found in waterways, throwaway plastics like straws and cutlery cause serious injuries. They get stuck in airways and cause painful internal injuries when eaten.
Mr Cucow said it was important the laws were quickly expanded to ban other plastics lethal to wildlife, including heavyweight plastic bags, plastic cups, fruit and veggie bags, plastic takeaway containers and balloons.
“We’re happy to hear the Palaszczuk government will be moving quickly to begin consultation on the next plastics to be prohibited in Queensland.
“With states like Western Australia banning plastic cups, thick plastic shopping bags, takeaway coffee cups, and helium balloon releases, the race to end wasteful plastic is heating up.”
Mr Cucow also said that it was time for the remaining states to catch up.
“Only Tasmania and the Northern Territory have no timeline for banning single-use plastics, yet these jurisdictions are disproportionately feeling the pain of plastic pollution on their beaches.
“Every day we wait, we lose more animal lives. With earth friendly alternatives now widely available, it’s time to ditch these killer plastics throughout all of Australia,” he said.
A table comparing Australian state and territory commitments on single-use plastics is available here.
Notes to editors
Recent statistics released by Tangaroa Blue’s ReefClean Project showed that in 2019, 24 tonnes of marine debris was cleared from the Great Barrier Reef alone.
Plastic pollution has also been associated with disease on coral reefs. A recent study of the effects of plastic on 124,000 reef-building corals from 159 reefs in the Asia Pacific Region (including Palm Islands, Whitsunday Islands and Keppel Islands) found the likelihood of disease increases from 4% to 89% when corals are in contact with plastic.
State and territory commitments
South Australia’s ban on single-use plastics commenced on 1 March 2021, banning single-use plastic straws, drink stirrers and cutlery. On 1 March 2022, polystyrene food & beverage containers as well as oxo-degradable plastics will be added to the ban. Details here.
The ACT Government’s ban on single-use plastic cutlery, drink stirrers and polystyrene food and beverage containers commenced 1 July 2021, with straws, fruit & veggie barrier bags and degradable plastics on the list to be phased out on 1 July 2022 following further consultation. Details here.
The Western Australia Government has committed to ban plastic plates, bowls, cups, cutlery, stirrers, straws, thick plastic bags, polystyrene food containers, and helium balloon releases by 2022. In stage two, now to be completed by 2023, takeaway coffee cups/lids containing plastic, plastic barrier/produce bags, cotton buds with plastic shafts, polystyrene packaging, microbeads and oxo-degradable plastics will be banned. Details here.
Victoria‘s government has committed to ban single-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. Details here.
The New South Wales Government has committed to ban single-use plastic bags, plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, expanded polystyrene food service items, plastic cotton bud sticks, and microbeads in cosmetics, expected to commence in 2022 if laws pass this year. Details here.
Tasmania and the Northern Territory have made no commitments to ban single-use plastics.
Australia’s National Packaging Targets set a goal to phase out problematic single-use plastics by 2025.
At a meeting of federal, state and territory environment ministers on 15 April 2021, Ministers identified eight ‘problematic and unnecessary’ plastic product types for industry to phase out nationally by 2025 (or sooner in some cases) under the National Waste Policy Action Plan, although this is understood to be a voluntary target. These are lightweight plastic bags; plastic products misleadingly termed as ‘degradable’; plastic straws; plastic utensils and stirrers; expanded polystyrene (EPS) consumer food containers (e.g. cups and clamshells); EPS consumer goods packaging (loose fill and moulded); and microbeads in personal health care products. Details here.
Under the National Plastics Plan, the Commonwealth Government has committed to phase out loose fill and moulded polystyrene packaging by July 2022, as well as expanded polystyrene foodware, oxo-degradable plastics, and PVC packaging labels by December 2022.
Jo Manning, Media Advisor
0405 567 228 / [email protected]
Shane Cucow, Plastics Campaign Manager
0423 544 979 / [email protected]