The ACT Government’s Plastic Reduction Bill, which charts a staggered ban of single-use plastic products, will be their first major legislation since October’s election when it goes before the ACT Legislative Assembly on Wednesday.
Under the bill, plastic cutlery, plastic drink stirrers and polystyrene food containers will be banned in the ACT from 1 July 2021.
Further products will then be banned from 1 July 2022, with more up for “longer term consideration” from that point onward.
“This legislation is crucial to ensure we can recycle as much material as possible and reduce the amount of plastic going into landfill and our environment,” Minister for Recycling and Waste Reduction Chris Steel said.
That first tranche of products to be phased out was originally planned to go early 2020 but will now occur in July 2021 – the delay made to not impose extra regulations on the hospitality industry during the disruption of the COVID-19 restrictions.
Australian Hotels Association (AHA) ACT general manager Anthony Brierley told Canberra Weekly the plastic reduction legislation is a “model bill”.
“We are grateful that they were prepared to postpone the implementation of the ban in consideration of the impact of COVID-19 on the hospitality industry,” he said.
According to Mr Brierley, most hospitality businesses in the ACT have stopped using or dramatically reduced their use of single-use plastics.
“There are better alternatives already available to hospitality businesses … In recognition of this important issue, the hospitality industry will endeavour to continue to move faster than the legislation,” he said.
Mr Steel “commended” the businesses that have already transitioned away from the products set to be banned in July 2021.
Mr Brierley said consultation between the ACT Government, including Mr Steel and the Transport Canberra and City Services Directorate, and industries affected by the bill has been “excellent”.
“The consultation has been frequent, detailed and open. It has been ongoing for about 18 months,” he said.
“I would encourage other jurisdictions around Australia to pay regard to this bill to ensure they are also doing their part.”
The second tranche of single-use plastic products to be banned in the ACT include straws and produce bags, which will come into effect 12 months after the first phase-out.
“The hospitality industry supports this measure,” Mr Brierley said.
“Many businesses have already moved to paper and bamboo straws. Ideally, in the near future plastic straws will only be available for customers who cannot use a paper or bamboo straw.”
After phase two, the banning of products such as plastic-lined single-use coffee cups and lids, single-use plastic dinnerware (e.g. plates, cups and bowls), cotton ear buds (with plastic sticks), and heavyweight plastic bags greater than 35 microns thick will all be subject to “longer term consideration”.