Single-use plastics including straws, cutlery and stirrers will be banned in South Australia under legislation proposed by the state government. More products, such as polystyrene cups and takeaway containers to will be considered in the future.
Draft legislation will be released for public consultation this year. The government then plans to introduce the bill to parliament in 2020.
Minister for Environment and Water David Speirs said a discussion paper earlier this year received strong feedback from South Australians keen to see action on single-use plastics.
“It is clear from the more than 3,500 submissions that there is significant community and industry support for increased measures to address a range of single-use plastic products and other items,” said Minister Speirs.
“Nearly 99 per cent of respondents recognised the environmental problems associated with single use plastics and nearly 97 per cent supported government intervention.”
In a report released by Green Industries SA on Saturday 6 July, the government outlined its plan to progress with the ban.
Key business, industry, local government and interest groups will form a stakeholder taskforce to help develop the legislation. The taskforce will mitigate the impact and help to ensure a smooth transition.
Further insights will be gleaned through ‘Plastic Free Precincts’ led by volunteer businesses and retailers, with a particular focus on the hospitality, cafe and foodservice sector. The precincts will focus on removing straws, single-use coffee cups, all plastic bags, plastic cutlery, plastic drink containers and polystyrene packaging.
If the bill is passed, South Australia will become the first state in the country to ban single-use plastics.
Speirs told the Adelaide Advertiser: “We led the way with our container-deposit scheme, we were ahead of the pack on plastic bag reform and now we will lead the country on single-use plastics.”
However, the move isn’t without precedent.
The European Union will phase out a range of products by 2021. In June, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his country would follow suit.
Earlier this year, the City of Hobart Council voted in favour of a by-law that aims to reduce single-use takeaway packaging.
In 2009, South Australia was the first state to ban lightweight plastic bags. Other states soon followed suit, with New South Wales now the only state not to implement a plastic bag ban.
Sarah Hanson-Young, who represents South Australia in the federal Senate, tweeted in support of the move, urging Prime Minister Scott Morrison to make the ban nationwide. According to the AAP, the Senator will introduce
Single-use plastics out of favour with business owners
A number businesses have taken action independently. Single O begun implementing a number of strategies to reduce reliance on takeaway coffee cups in 2017. The Sydney-based roastery, whose head of retail Angus Lindsay will speak about innovation at the Hospitality Leaders Summit, managed cut down usage of takeaways cups to 47 per cent within 12 months.
Melbourne café Napier Quarter banned takeway coffee from 21 December 2018, after owner Daniel Lewis couldn’t find a bin for the café’s biodegradable cups.
Burger chain Grill’d removed single-use plastic straws in August 2019, as the #SydneyDoesntSuck campaign kicked off. Gotcha Fresh Tea is also set to introduce recyclable and environmentally friendly packaging, including cups, packages and straws.
Single-use plastics ban not straightforward
Although many consumers and business operators are in favour of intervention to reduce waste, others have voiced concerns about the wholesale demonisation of single-use plastics.
Some customers have a genuine need for some single-use plastics, with alternatives such as metal and paper straws not always appropriate. Disability visibility activist Alice Wong wrote about the burden of straw bans in Eater, arguing that plastic straws are often the most suitable option.
The process of removing single-use plastics from venues can also be a challenge for cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars. However, a successful and considerate transition away from is possible.