On Sunday, the Western Australian government’s comprehensive plan to ban single-use plastics was announced. This plan comes on the feedback of a recent discussion paper on disposable plastics that indicated 98% community support for the government to take action to reduce the impacts of single-use plastics.
According to the paper, in 2018–19, a total of 3.4 million tonnes of plastic was consumed in Australia, generating about three million tonnes of plastic waste, equivalent to 120 kg per person. Just 11% of Australia’s plastic waste was recycled with the rest sent to landfill.
Western Australia’s Plan for Plastics, a six-year project rolled out in two stages, aims to limit the sale, trade and use of single-use plastics to reduce environmental impacts.
The first stage will be delivered from 2020 to 2023 will phase-out the following single-use plastic items: plates, cutlery, straws, thick plastic bags, stirrers, polystyrene food containers, and helium balloon releases.
The second stage will be rolled out from 2024 to 2026 and will ban single-use plastic produce bags, microbeads, polystyrene packaging, cotton buds with plastic shafts and oxo-degradable plastics.
Shane Cucow, plastics spokesperson for the Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS), encouraged all states and territories to match WA’s policies. “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.”
WA will join other Australian states and territories including South Australia, Queensland and the ACT in phasing out other single-use plastics beyond lightweight disposable plastic bags. In September, SA passed laws to ban single-use plastics commencing early 2021. Queensland and the ACT have draft laws currently being considered in their parliaments.
Last month, WA also introduced its Containers for Change scheme which allows its residents to claim a 10 cent refund when they return eligible beverage containers to nominated refund centres. This follows similar programs implemented by the Queensland, New South Wales and Northern Territory governments which modelled its container refund schemes on South Australia’s; a jurisdiction which passed its container refund legislation back in 1977.
Mr Cucow said all States and Territories needed to join WA and increase their commitments to banning single-use plastics.
Related Post: 10 Ways to Avoid Single-Use Plastic When Out and About
“We call on NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and the NT 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.”
AMCS asserts that WA’s full list of banned items is the most ambitious in the country. South Australia and Queensland’s plans still includes single-use plastic items such as heavyweight plastic bags, microbeads and produce bags.
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Cover image by Anna Shvets.