The ACT Greens have today called on the Government to commit to banning a range of single-use plastics by 2022, and to plan for an orderly transition to a single-use plastic-free future.
“For 2 decades now Canberrans have diligently sorted our recycling into the yellow-lid bin. But with recycling industries in crisis across the country, the Greens are today calling on the ACT Government to start work now on the necessary transition towards a single-use plastic-free future,” ACT Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur said today.
“By 2023, the ACT Government is due to renew our waste management contracts. By starting early – now – the ACT Government could become a world leader in the ‘war on waste’ – well before this contract is negotiated, and well before the inevitable day comes when single-use plastic is no longer widely used.”
Following a recent submission to the single-use plastics inquiry, the Greens are calling on the ACT Government to commit to a ban and an orderly transition towards the ban on a wide-range of single use plastics by 2022, including:
- Single-use plastic takeaway containers, cups, crockery, cutlery, straws and stirrers from takeaway food outlets in the ACT
- Single-use polystyrene products in the ACT, including coffee cups, plates, bowls, takeaway food containers, packing ‘peanuts’ and food trays used in supermarkets
- Disposable plastic water bottles in Government schools, hospitals, office buildings and other facilities, instead providing water in reuseable containers.
“Single-use plastic may be convenient to use for a few minutes, but the time, effort and energy that goes into producing this ‘throwaway’ plastic just doesn’t stack up, while the volume of plastic making its way into our oceans and waterways continues to grow every year,” Ms Le Couteur said.
“There are plenty of plastic-free alternatives becoming readily available. Many Canberrans are choosing to move away from single-use plastic items and are choosing more sustainable options like reusable coffee cups, bringing their lunch from home, or simply purchasing products that don’t come in insidious packaging, such as polystyrene.
“It will be important to evaluate the impacts on consumers for changes to individual items – plastic straws alternatives for people with disabilities, as one example. An orderly transition, made in consultation with the community, will ensure that no-one is disproportionately impacted by this important shift. Food halls may wish to invest in reuseable crockery and cutlery now to be ready for a ban.
“Every choice we make makes a difference, when it comes to protecting our precious environment for future generations to enjoy,” Ms Le Couteur added.
Background: How community sentiment is changing when it comes to single-use plastics
- A recent report from the ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment found that the ACT’s plastic bag ban has enjoyed high levels of support since it was introduced in 2011, and that support has increased over time.
- Earlier this year, the Western Australian Government began consulting with its community in relation to reducing single-use plastics.
- The ABC’s recent ‘War on Waste’ program reached 3.8 million viewers, and is reported to have identified 452 high-impact waste-reducing initiatives across Australia in which the program played a key role, including numerous initiatives in relation to reducing single-use plastics.
- The European Union voted in March this year to bring in a ban on plastic cutlery, cotton buds, straws and stirrers by 2021, and Canada and South Australia are both working on similar initiatives.
- Hobart City Council has voted to ban a range of plastic items used for takeaway foods, including plastic cutlery, sauce sachets, hot food containers, plastic straws, plastic lined noodle boxes, plastic lined coffee cups and plastic lids and plastic sandwich wedges.
- Costa Rica has committed to be plastic-free by 2021, with non petroleum-based biodegradable alternatives to be used instead.
- India has announced a phase out of single use plastics such as plastic bags, cups, plates, small bottles, straws and certain types of sachets by 2022.