South Australia just became the first Australian state to ban single-use plastics. The ban, which comes into effect in 2021, prohibits the sale, supply or distribution of plastic cutlery, straws and beverage stirrers.
The use of polystyrene cups, bowls, plates and clamshell containers will also be illegal under the new laws. In addition to these banned products, the legislation includes a list of single-use plastic products that are under currently under review and may be banned in future, these are: cups (including coffee cups), food containers, bowls, plates, lids of single-use coffee cups, balloon sticks, balloon ties, plastic-stemmed cotton buds and plastic bags.
The laws represent the first stage in the state's plan to phase out single-use plastics completely.
"We want to deal with the low-hanging fruit in the first few months, that's drink stirrers, cutlery, straws, then next year we'll move onto takeaway containers," South Australia's State Environment Minister David Speirs told ABC News.
"Over the next couple of years I think we'll move quickly towards being single-use plastic free, there's a real hunger in the community," he added.
The implementation of the laws has been delayed to 2021 so that businesses have time to recover from COVID-19 and prepare for the change.
The laws include exemptions for people with a disability or medical condition who need access to single-use plastics.
The legislation also aims to curb microplastic pollution by banning the manufacture and sale of 'oxo-degradable plastic'. That is, plastic that has an additive which helps it to breakdown into smaller pieces more quickly when exposed to heat or radiation.
South Australia is leading the way when it comes to reducing our reliance on single-use plastics.
“SA has long been ahead of the curve on plastics. They were the first state or territory to introduce a container deposit scheme way back in 1977 and the first to ban plastic bags in 2009," Shane Cucow, plastics spokesperson for the Australian Marine Conservation Society, said.
“These historic new laws will prevent lethal plastic straws and cutlery from entering South Australia’s waterways and oceans, potentially saving the lives of countless seabirds, dolphins and whales."
With other states currently considering single-use plastics bans, this legislation puts pressure on the rest of the country take action on the issue of single-use plastics.
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.