The ACT Greens have called on the ACT Government to forge ahead with a prohibit certain single-use plastic products given the implementation of the ban, originally slated for ‘mid-to-late 2020’, has been delayed until 2021 due to COVID-19.
Greens Environment campaign spokesperson and candidate for Ginninderra, Jo Clay, said she wants to see consultation on the ACT single-use plastic ban go ahead with small business and the hospitality industry.
“We’re quite keen for the government to get on with the consultation they’ve promised regarding single use plastics,” Ms Clay said.
“It’s probably even more important to open up those channels with the businesses that are struggling … I think not talking to people is actually not very helpful.
“We’re pretty confident we can come up with some pretty good solutions, we just don’t want to push back on that any further.”
The Phasing Out Single-Use Plastics Engagement Report, published in September 2019, said 42 business surveys were completed during the community consultation period of the discussion paper between 16 April and 31 July 2019.
“The small number of survey responses from businesses that actually use or supply particular single-use plastic products mean it will be important to engage further with local businesses on the potential impacts and challenges associated with phasing out these products,” the report read.
ACT Minister for Recycling and Waste Reduction, Chris Steel, said the Government has also run business consultation through the ACT’s Plastic Reduction Taskforce, which features 13 peak bodies across hospitality, small business, disability and conservation, on the draft legislation in February this year.
“Rather than just calling for yet more consultation, the Greens should support our Government’s Bill to phase out single-use plastics when it is introduced to the Legislative Assembly,” Mr Steel said.
The ACT Government will introduce the Plastic Reduction Bill in 2020 as announced, to ban certain single-use plastics.
“However, due to the pandemic, all Australian jurisdictions have put any implementation on hold until July 2021,” he said.
The original plan was to immediately phase out all single-use plastic cutlery, single-use plastic stirrers, and single-use expanded polystyrene takeaway food and beverage containers “mid-to-late 2020”, before phasing out other single-use plastic items, like produce bags, in 2021.
“This legislation could impose additional regulation on the hospitality industry and events industries when they are not operating or just trying to survive during the pandemic, which is why the legislation will still be introduced this year but implemented from 2021,” Mr Steel said.
Ms Clay said she is “very sympathetic” to the challenges facing the hospitality sector during the pandemic.
“The problem is, and I speak to this as someone from the recycling industry, delays actually aren’t very helpful, there’s a lot of decisions you have to make,” she said.
“It’s a lot more helpful to have those conversations and work out what you have to do rather than delay.”