The tide is slowing turning against single-use plastics in Australia with Queensland planning to become the second Australian state to ban these products. Following in the footsteps of South Australia — where a bill banning single-use plastic straws, cutlery and stirrers was passed late last year — Queensland's single-use plastics ban is set to come into effect from September 2021.
The Queensland State Government has reintroduced a bill that would prohibit the use of popular single-use items. These include: plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery and plates. It is also seeking community feedback on expanded polystyrene food containers and cups.
“In March 2020, we asked Queenslanders to decide the future of single-use plastic items, and the overwhelming majority were in favour a ban. The community’s sentiment is clear, with 94 per cent of the 20,000 respondents supporting the proposal to ban single-use plastic items," Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Meaghan Scanlon, said in a statement.
“Now, we also want to know what Queenslanders think about including expanded polystyrene food containers and cups."
Environmental groups have highlighted the importance of this legislation in light of the increased rates of single-use plastics being used in the community as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We have seen a huge increase in single-use plastics and some of that is entirely appropriate for medical purposes and for personal protective equipment. But we've also seen a huge increase in takeaway containers and single-use plastics packaging," Richard Leck, the Australian manager for marine conservation and sustainable development at the World Wide Fund for Nature, told ABC News.
"We really do need to start remembering those good habits that we had before the pandemic," he added.
As we adjust to the 'new normal' of life after COVID, we must still remember to opt for reuseables where safe and appropriate. The current Queensland health advice allows reuseable cups at cafes so long as staff do a 'contactless pour'. The same approach was also recently adopted by many businesses during the Northern Beaches lockdown. If in doubt, simply ask your local cafe if they offer this service.
Queenland's single-use plastics ban has been delayed till September to give businesses affected by COVID-19 time to prepare for the change.
“In recognition of the fact that this has been a difficult year for many small businesses in the hospitality sector, the ban’s start date will be no earlier than 1 September 2021, and we will confirm the start date once the Bill passes in early 2021," Minister Scanlon said.
If you live in Queensland, you can have your say on expanded polystyrene products here.
Positive Environment News has been compiled using publicly available information. Planet Ark does not take responsibility for the accuracy of the original information and encourages readers to check the references before using this information for their own purposes.