Queenslanders to decide future of single-use plastics

Queensland is taking the next step in removing single-use plastics from the environment, with consultation opening today on a state-wide ban that will initially focus on straws, drink stirrers, cutlery and plates.

Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch said single-use plastic was an increasing problem damaging our environment and marine life and Queenslanders were looking for a positive solution.

“It’s time to decide the future of single-use plastics in Queensland. Plastic pollution in our environment affects every aspect of our lives – from the water we drink and the food we consume, to the plants, animals and outdoor places we all love and enjoy,” Minister Enoch said.

“We are looking to limit and, where necessary, ban the supply of most single-use plastic products starting with straws, stirrers, plates, cutlery and cups.

“This consultation is very important because we want to make sure we hear everyone’s perspectives on single-use plastics. Importantly, we are committed to ensuring the needs of people with a disability and the aged care sector are taken into account.

“Over 75% of rubbish that is removed from Australian beaches is made of plastic.

“Our government has already taken steps to reduce plastic with the ban on single-use plastics bags and the introduction of Containers for Change. Those initiatives have seen hundreds of millions of individual plastic products kept from entering the environment, and now we’re looking ahead.

“We want to hear from Queenslanders as we take this next step,” Ms Enoch said.

Minister Enoch said the Palaszczuk Government’s Plastic Pollution Reduction Plan, released in 2019, committed to introducing enabling legislation in 2020, subject to consultation, to ban the supply of specific plastic products.

“In the future we’ll also consider other forms of single-use items such as coffee cups, heavyweight plastic shopping bags and polystyrene containers, but right now we’re focused on straws, stirrers, plates and cutlery,” Ms Enoch said.

WWF Australia’s No Plastics in Nature Policy Manager, Katinka Day said: “Single-use plastic items are a major and destructive source of ocean plastic pollution. Items such as plastic bags, plastic utensils, straws and coffee cups are convenient for a few minutes but are often discarded after a single-use, ending up in landfill, or as litter in our beautiful oceans and beaches.”

More than 7300 plastic straws were collected at the last Clean Up Australia Day, which is double the number of straws collected two years ago.

“Plastic lasts a long time. A 30 to 40 year old plastic bag was discovered in a Sunshine Coast waterway.”

Queensland Disability Advisory Council chair Sharon Boyce said many within the disability community relied heavily on straws.

“This is a conversation our community welcomes – how those of us with high needs can find a practical solution to plastic straws,” she said.

“We are also concerned about the environmental impact of single-use plastics and we support measures that will reduce environmental destruction,” Ms Boyce said.

The Government is seeking feedback from Queenslanders and businesses on the proposed bans to ensure an understanding of the impact it may have, consider everyone’s needs and develop the best plan for transitioning to a future free from plastic waste.

Queenslanders, stakeholders and the community are encouraged to provide feedback by visiting www.qld.gov.au/reducingplastic.

Submissions open 13 March and will close 15 April 2020.

All submissions will be considered as the government shapes new legislation that helps move the state towards a zero-waste economy by 2050.

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