The Palaszczuk Government has introduced legislation to ban single-use plastics in Queensland, starting with straws, stirrers, cutlery, and plates.
The bill will also provide a means for more single-use plastic, like coffee cups, polystyrene cups, take-away food containers, and heavy weight plastic bags, to be banned in the future, following public consultation.
Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch says the government is committed to reducing the destructive impact of plastic waste on its waterways, marine life, and environment.
“In March this year, we asked Queenslanders to decide the future of single-use plastic items and we received a resounding response that was very clear. Almost 20,000 responses were received, with 94 per cent of submissions in favour of a ban,” Minister Enoch says.
“That’s an overwhelming statement from communities wanting to find a positive solution to reducing plastic waste and protecting our environment.”
She adds the government is aware Queensland businesses, like others around the world, are being impacted by the global coronavirus pandemic, and it has provided time to make the transition.
“That’s why the Bill allows for flexibility, with the start date for the ban to be no earlier than 1 July 2021, allowing businesses and the hospitality industry adequate time to source new products,” Minister Enoch says.
“Ninety per cent of submissions supported a proposed start date of 1 July 2021.”
Items such as single-use plastic straws that are part of juice box packaging will not be part of the ban at this time, enabling the government to work with packaging and product manufacturers to develop more sustainable options.
Minister Enoch says the bill will also consider the needs of vulnerable community members, such as those with disabilities, in aged care, and health, by providing an exemption for these sectors.
Queensland Disability Advisory Council Chair Sharon Boyce says that, overall, the sector is supportive of the proposed ban since exemptions are provided for people with disability, who rely on single-use plastics as part of their daily life routines.
“Discussions with the disability sector regarding implementation of the ban will continue so we can find the best solution,” Sharon says.
The Palaszczuk Government says it’s committed to reducing plastic pollution. A ban on single-use plastics is part of Queensland’s positive approach to the war on waste, as outlined in the Tackling Plastic Waste: Queensland’s Plastic Pollution Reduction Plan.