ACT plastics ban will save wildlife but must go further, say marine conservationists

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

The laws would commence from July 2021 and will help to save ocean wildlife like turtles and seabirds from death by plastic.

AMCS plastics spokesperson Shane Cucow said the new laws were vital but needed to go further and include single use plastic straws and other plastic plates and bowls. The ACT Government has said they intend to introduce bans on these items in 2022 with exemptions allowing access to people with disabilities or medical needs.

“We are pleased to see the ACT Government moving to ban killer plastics, yet there are critical plastics like straws missing from the proposed ban.

“Straws are one of the most notorious causes of injury for ocean wildlife so we are disappointed to see the ACT government delaying action,” he said.

“Plastic straws break down into microplastics after entering the ocean and are ingested by birds and marine wildlife. We know that mother birds are feeding plastic pieces to their baby chicks, mistaking it for food.”

Mr Cucow said South Australia and Queensland had tabled single use plastic legislation that was more comprehensive, including bans on plastic straws that include exemptions that allow continued access for people with disabilities or medical requirements.

“We urge the ACT Government to move rapidly to ban more plastic products lethal to marine animals including straws, heavyweight plastic bags, fruit and veggie bags, and non polystyrene plastic cups, plates and bowls.”

“All of Australia must unite in the fight against killer plastics. We hope all states and territories follow the lead of SA, QLD and the ACT and pass laws to save Australia’s iconic wildlife,” he added.

New South Wales and Western Australia recently finished public consultations that canvassed the idea of a ban on single-use plastics. They are yet to announce their plans.

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