The South Australian Government has revealed it’s considering banning takeaway coffee cups and other single-use plastic products with the release of a new discussion paper.
The Turning the Tide on Single-Use Plastic Products discussion paper seeks feedback on whether the government should introduce measures to tackle a range of single-use items, including coffee cups. The paper asks whether government intervention is required for these items and in what form it could take.
Environment Minister David Speirs says South Australia is a national leader in recycling and resource recovery, and it is important to discuss single-use plastics.
“Increasing interest and action globally is calling for a halt to the impact of single-use plastics on the environment. In October 2018, the European Union announced its intention to ban a range of single-use plastic items,” he says.
“We can take more immediate local action on items that are designed and intended for disposal after only a single use, are prone to being littered, are unlikely to be recycled and for which more sustainable alternatives are available.”
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According to the paper, plastic product waste has surged over the past 50 years, from 15 million tonnes in 1964 to 311 million tonnes in 2014. It is expected to double again over the next 20 years.
The report also cites action on plastic in countries such as France and Italy, which have banned plastic cotton buds. France has also banned plastic cups and plates, and the United Kingdom intends to ban straws. Brussels, Ireland and Portugal are considering similar measures.
According to the paper, estimates suggest that South Australians could be using about 255,500,000 million straws per year.
Items excluded for the time being from the ban are microplastics/microbeads, non-plastic single-use disposable items, single-use plastic beverage containers and sanitary applications such as wet wipes.
Further work will be undertaken to evaluate the impact of a proposed ban on manufacturers or importers of single-use products. The paper cites an opportunity for these producers to redirect production to reusable and recyclable items.
“With a shift to reusable items, a single upfront purchase by the retailer will avoid future regular costs of purchasing the single use items, and thus may lead to a saving,” the paper says.
“There will be a cost to providing reusable items for consumption on site, but savings from not providing single-use items. The balance of the costs and savings will vary for different retailers and determine whether a switch away from single-use plastics can ‘pay for itself’ over time.”
Consultation runs until 22 February 2019. The discussion paper is available here.