The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has welcomed the Western Australia Government’s announcement to ban single-use plastics by 2023 – laws critical to stemming the flow of lethal plastic into our oceans and waterways.
The McGowan Government’s Plan for Plastics was announced Sunday, and will be rolled out in two stages.
In the first stage (2020 to 2023), the state will ban plastic plates, cutlery, stirrers, straws, thick plastic bags, polystyrene food containers, and helium balloon releases.
In the second stage (2024-2026), the state will ban single-use plastic barrier/produce bags, microbeads, polystyrene packaging, cotton buds with plastic shafts and oxo-degradable plastics.
All together, the full list of banned items is the most ambitious in the country, including items such as heavyweight plastic bags, microbeads, and produce bags that have not yet been included in South Australia or Queensland’s bans.
Shane Cucow, plastics spokesperson for the AMCS, encouraged all other states to match WA’s ambition.
“WA is about to take first place in the fight against plastic, with the McGowan Government’s plan to ban killer plastics,” Mr Cucow said.
“WA’s dolphins, whales and seabirds are soon to have safer seas.
“In particular, we know that soft plastics like shopping bags and produce bags are some of the most lethal to ocean wildlife, entangling and drowning small creatures or causing life-threatening blockages when eaten.”
Despite celebrating the proposed ban, Mr Cucow said the timeline needed to be accelerated to reflect the urgency of the crisis.
“Every day we wait thousands of ocean animals die, killed by the plastic trash filling up our oceans globally,” he said.
“With plastic waste increasing rapidly, it has never been more urgent to act. We urge the WA Government to start banning stage one plastics by the end of 2021.”
WA will join SA, Queensland and the ACT as the only jurisdictions banning single-use plastics beyond plastic bags.
SA passed laws to ban single-use plastics in September, commencing early 2021. Queensland and the ACT have draft laws currently being considered in their parliaments.
WA also introduced its Containers for Change scheme in October which allows Western Australians to claim a 10 cent refund when they return eligible beverage containers to designated refund points.
Mr Cucow said all States and Territories needed to join WA and increase their ambition.
“We call on New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania and the Northern Territory to step up to the plate with single-use plastics bans.
“Our oceans know no borders. Victoria’s plastic problem is SA’s plastic problem too. It’s time for all states to join the national effort and eliminate these killer plastic products.
“With safe, earth friendly alternatives available it’s time to ban single-use plastics across all of Australia.”