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Sunday, July 25, 2021

ACT’s single-use plastic ban to start in July

The ACT is set to cut harmful waste and better protect the environment through a ban on the sale of selected single-use plastics to take effect from 1 July.

The Plastic Reduction Bill 2020 passed the ACT Legislative Assembly today, Tuesday 30 March, delivering a framework for progressively phasing out single-use plastics over time. 

The ACT is the second jurisdiction in Australia, after SA, to take this step, with the first tranche of products to be banned from 1 July including plastic cutlery, drink stirrers and expanded polystyrene containers.

In 2022, the ACT Government will seek to phase out a second tranche of single-use plastic items such as straws, barrier bags for fruit and vegetables, and all products made from degradable plastic.

According to Minister for Transport and City Services, Chris Steel, exemptions will be carefully designed to ensure people who need to use straws will still be able to access and use them.

Items such as plastic-lined single-use coffee cups and lids, single-use plastic dinnerware, boutique or heavyweight plastic bags, and cotton ear buds with plastic sticks remain under consideration for future phase outs from 2023 onwards.

“Canberrans are already some of the nation’s best recyclers and we know this shift away from single-use plastics is strongly supported by the Canberra community,” Mr Steel said.

“It’s been fantastic to see that so many local businesses have already made the switch to more sustainable materials, reflecting our community’s values.

“Now we are making sure there is a level playing field for all businesses by banning the sale and use of cheap single-use plastics which do so much harm to our environment,” he said. 

“We’ve seen great engagement by Canberra’s local businesses and their supporting associations in developing our comprehensive local plan to phase out single-use plastics.

“I’d encourage all Canberrans to support the switch by embracing the alternative products businesses will be providing in the months to come.”

According to Mr Steel, this legislative and regulatory change is an important part of making Canberra a more sustainable city as it grows. It will see every Canberran and local business taking practical action towards the development of a circular economy.

He said the ACT Government will take an educative approach to compliance in the first stages of the ban, supporting business and the community to transition to the new requirements.

“From today, Canberra businesses can call our single-use plastics business hotline on 1800 844 946 for support and advice on alternative products and how to comply with the ban when it takes effect on 1 July,” the Minister said. 

“We will also be making a range of online resources available for businesses in coming weeks through the City Services website.”

In an Australian first, the legislation also gives the ACT Government the power to declare public events as single-use plastic free. This means that other single-use plastic items could be banned at public events beyond the initial items to be phased out from 1 July.

These events could include Floriade, major festivals and sporting matches. The decision to declare events single-use plastic free will be made in close consultation with event organisers.

“We look forward to working with the community, business and industry to implement the progressive phase out of single-use plastics so we can better protect our environment,” Mr Steel said.

“I’d encourage all Canberrans to rethink their need for single-use plastic items or seek out alternatives. This will support an effective transition to the circular economy we need to build together.”

For more information on the ACT’s ban on selected single-use plastics, visit www.act.gov.au/single-use-plastics

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