The phase out of single use plastics in the ACT will begin in 2020 with legislation to be introduced to ban certain problematic items where there is an alternative available.
Items that will be banned immediately from the commencement of legislation include: plastic cutlery; expanded polystyrene takeaway food and beverage containers; and plastic stirrers.
Twelve months after the legislation is passed the following items will be banned: plastic fruit and vegetable barrier bags; oxodegradable plastic products; and plastic straws, except for people who need them.
The government will work with disability representatives on the implementation of the ban to ensure that people with disability have access to plastic straws if necessary.
The ACT will become the only jurisdiction in the country to ban fruit and vegetable barrier bags, providing a 12-month lead in time after the legislation is passed for supermarkets and grocers to put alternatives in place.
“Products like expanded polystyrene foam containers are a relic of the past and will be banned immediately because they are not sustainable, and there are clear alternatives already available,” said Minister for Recycling and Waste Reduction, Chris Steel.
In the longer term, consideration will be given to phasing out other single-use plastic products including: plastic lined coffee cups and lids; single-use plastic dinnerware; more heavyweight plastic bags; and cotton ear buds.
“We won’t be proposing to ban plastic lined coffee cups or single-use plastic dinnerware at this point in time, but we are placing them on the list for future action,” Mr Steel said.
It is anticipated that the Plastics Reduction Bill 2020 will be debated in the Legislative Assembly in early 2020.
In related news, earlier this month the ACT Government launched a reusable coffee cup scheme in partnership with private enterprise, Green Caffeen, to help reduce consumption of single-use cups in the region.
At the time of launching, more than 40 Canberra cafes had signed up to the free ‘swap-and-go’ model, which allows customers to order their coffee in a reusable cup that can be returned to any participating café.
The partnership sees Green Caffeen distribute CBR co-branded cups into rotation that contain recycled content and will also be recycled into new cups at the end of their lifespan.
Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability, Shane Rattenbury, said the scheme makes it easier for Canberrans to stay sustainable, “even if you forget to bring your cup along when you go on a coffee run”.
Mr Chris Steel said it’s important that environmentally friendly schemes are made as easy as possible for the general public to participate in.
“The Government will be looking very closely at how the voluntary scheme operates before taking further action, but regulation is not off the table for single-use coffee cups.”
To register and participate in the scheme, download the Green Caffeen app on your phone from your app store.