Media Release Plastic Pollution

Race is on - WA accelerates plastic ban to save oceans

June 13, 2021

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has welcomed the WA Government’s weekend announcement that they are fast tracking and expanding their ban on single-use plastics, with a ban now to commence at the end of the year.

By December 31, 2021 the state government will ban plastic plates, bowls, cups, cutlery, stirrers, straws, thick plastic bags, polystyrene food containers, and helium balloon releases.

In stage two, now to be completed by the end of 2022, plastic barrier/produce bags, cotton buds with plastic shafts, polystyrene packaging, microbeads and oxo-degradable plastics will be banned – effectively bringing forward their full ban on plastics by four years.

The WA government has also taken a nation-leading step by becoming the first to ban takeaway coffee cups and lids with single-use plastic materials, to be phased out in 2022.

The welcome announcement comes the same day as the NSW Government’s announcement they will ban single-use plastics in the coming year.

AMCS plastics campaign manager Shane Cucow congratulated the government on responding to the urgency of the plastic pollution crisis in Australia’s oceans.

“Just this year, we have seen shocking reports of turtles washing up on beaches with plastic in their stomachs.

“By bringing forward their plastics ban and committing to ban plastics such as straws, cutlery, plates and bowls by the end of the year, the McGowan Government has shown they are taking this crisis seriously, “ he said.

“With their new commitments, WA will be the first to ban thick plastic bags, showing ocean lovers that this government is serious about stopping plastic bags from hurting wildlife.

“We commend Environment Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson and the McGowan Government for being the first in Australia to commit to a ban on takeaway coffee cups and lids containing single-use plastics.

“The WA Government’s leadership is welcome news for the renowned marine wildlife of places like Ningaloo-Exmouth Gulf, the Kimberley and rugged south coast. We must do everything we can to protect WA’s threatened species and habitats.

“With safe, earth friendly alternatives available, it is time to put our wildlife first.

“With this timeline, WA will soon lead the nation in the race to ban single-use plastics lethal to ocean wildlife.

Mr Cucow said eyes were now on Tasmania and the Northern Territory, the only states and territories without a plan to ban problem single-use plastics.

“Every day we wait, we lose more animals to the scourge of plastic pollution,” added Mr Cucow.

“With every other state moving to ban notorious plastics like straws, cutlery and polystyrene, it’s time for Tasmania and the Northern Territory to act.”

Notes to editors

National commitments

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.

Laws passed in SA, QLD and the ACT

South Australia’s ban on single-use plastics commenced on 1 March 2021, banning plastic cutlery, straws and drink stirrers. Polystyrene food and beverage containers will be banned from 1 March 2022. Details here.

The Australian Capital Territory’s ban on single-use plastics will commence on 1 July 2021. Their ban will outlaw single-use plastic cutlery, drink stirrers and polystyrene food and beverage containers. The government has indicated plastic straws and plastic fruit & vegetable barrier bags will be added to the ban from 1 July 2022. Details here.

Queensland’s ban will commence 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.

Other state commitments (not yet legislated)

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.

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.

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