Queensland has given a swathe of single-use plastics the flick, with the latest ban taking effect today as part of efforts to stop waste from ending up in local waterways, beaches and landfill.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the ban would help reduce single-use plastic pollution by 20 per cent over the next two years.
The September 1 ban covers single-use plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, plates and unenclosed bowls, as well as single-use takeaway containers and cups made from expanded polystyrene.
The ban will stop these items being supplied in Queensland, including items provided free with purchased meals or sold in packets as party supplies.
“Half of all plastics are only designed to be used once. That has led to more than 75 per cent of the waste removed from our beaches being made of plastic,” the Premier said.
“Preventing this rubbish from ending up in our beaches and waterways will protect animals like turtles, which alone have a 20 per cent chance of dying if they ingest just one piece of plastic.
“Today’s ban, a part of our war on waste, will also help to protect the Great Barrier Reef – along with the $6 billion and 60,000 jobs it supports.
“We know that these measures work. We’ve already seen the benefits of the lightweight single-use plastic shopping bag ban, with surveys showing a 70 per cent reduction in all plastic bag litter since the bag ban began in 2018.
“We’ve also seen more than four billion containers exchanged through our popular Containers for Change program.”
Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon said banning single-use plastics added to the Palaszczuk Government’s record $1.4 billion investment to protect the environment, support business and create jobs as part of the state’s COVID-19 Economic Recovery Plan.
“In partnership with the National Retail Association, we’ve already engaged with more than 5000 businesses over the past 3 months, helping small to large retailers to prepare for the ban.
“There will be exemptions to ensure that Queenslanders with disability or healthcare needs can continue to access and use items necessary for them.
“With the economy and jobs now growing and recovering from the impacts of COVID-19 thanks to our economic recovery plan, so too is our environment with the ban of even more single-use plastics.”
National Retail Association CEO Dominique Lamb said retailers were very supportive of environmental initiatives and many had been transitioning to more sustainable and reusable items for some time.
“We’ve gone to over 310 centres and shopping strips throughout the state, providing resources and advice to cafes, restaurants, food outlets, discount stores, supermarkets, party suppliers, markets and many more.
“Even though many retailers have been doing it tough during the pandemic, the response has been overwhelmingly positive with retailers keen to do their bit for the environment.
“With the ban arriving soon, we encourage consumers to support these businesses by bringing reusable utensils when possible, or just being prepared that the options we provide are a little different now,” Ms Lamb said.
Information, resources and signage for businesses are available at http://www.qldplasticsban.com.au and businesses can call the NRA’s tollfree hotline 1800 844 946 for advice.
Boomerang Alliance is currently hosting forums throughout Queensland, on behalf of the Queensland Government, to help prepare community groups and the community for the upcoming ban.
Toby Hutcheon, Queensland Manager of Boomerang Alliance, said the forums answered questions on what items are included in the ban, what alternative products can be used, and how individual businesses and the community can adapt to the ban.
“We’ve been very impressed with the take up of these forums, with more than 400 attendees so far,” Mr Hutcheon said.
“The forums are held in the evenings and consist of a 30-minute presentation and a Q&A session, providing explanations on how to avoid and reduce single-use plastics in specific scenarios, such as at sausage sizzles and sports events.
“The forums will continue right through to October at many locations across the state.”
Information on the forums is available at https://www.eventbrite.com.au/e/qld-plastic-ban-tour-2021-tickets-156022305917.
Minister Scanlon said the government, National Retail Association and Boomerang Alliance, would continue an initial education-first approach and would work with organisations to ensure they understood the ban and their obligations.
There may be impacts to some businesses and community groups due to COVID-19, particularly in relation to using stock on hand and accessing alternative supplies.
“Whenever this is genuinely the case, DES will continue an ‘engagement and education-first approach’ to compliance throughout September,” Minister Scanlon said.
After September DES will review this approach and businesses and community groups are encouraged to continue engaging with the National Retail Association and Boomerang Alliance to make sure they understand their obligations and requirements under the ban.
Further information on the items that will be banned from September this year is available at http://www.qld.gov.au/environment/pollution/management/waste/recovery/reduction/plastic-pollution/single-use-plastic-products-ban.