ACT Government proposes ban on coffee cups, straws and plastic cutlery

Lachlan Roberts 19 February 2019 126

The proposal is considering banning plastic cutlery and takeaway containers.

Seven years after the ACT banned single-use plastic shopping bags, the ACT Government is proposing to ban all single-use plastics, saying plastic bags are only one part of a much larger plastics problem.

Under the new proposal, ACT Minister for City Services Chris Steel wants to ban coffee cups, plastic cutlery, cups, straws, lightweight plastic bags, takeaway containers and cotton buds.

A recent review into the ACT’s plastic shopping bag ban said there is no easy solution to Canberra’s “plastic addiction” but estimated that plastic bags represent less than one per cent of the waste going to landfill in the ACT.

It is the Government’s ambition to have 90 per cent of waste being diverted from landfill by 2025, and Mr Steel believes a broader approach to single-use plastic is a logical approach to achieve that goal.

“Our fondness for single-use plastic, such as plastic cutlery, cups, straws, packaging and lightweight plastic bags, has grown considerably,” Mr Steel said. “It is estimated that 10 million straws are used in Australia every day, and can take up to 200 years to degrade into micro-particles.

“Plastic straws used today will outlive your children’s, children’s children.

“Single-use plastics, including but not limited to lightweight plastic bags, are an issue of both public and environmental concern.”

The ACT wants to follow in South Australia’s footsteps after it announced it would consider a single-use plastic ban last month. Mr Steel said South Australia has recognised that there is a clear benefit in addressing the related issues of single-use plastic bags and other single-use plastics, which is an approach the ACT Government supports.

Last year’s review into the Government’s plastic bag ban found the ban was reducing plastic use, but it raised questions over thicker plastic reusable bags, as well as compostable and cotton alternatives.

The report concluded that the ban has had a “marked impact on the ACT’s consumption of single-use plastic bags”, but that plastic consumption appears to be gradually returning to the levels seen prior to the ban’s introduction.

Mr Steel said plastic bags have become a symbol of Canberra’s ‘throwaway society’, and one of the benefits of banning plastic bags was to raise community awareness of broader environmental and sustainability issues.

The ACT Government will release a discussion paper to gauge community feedback around the proposal and will launch an information paper on moving beyond single-use plastics, including plastic bags in the coming months.

“I want the ACT community, businesses and industries to tell us how the ACT should address single-use plastics,” Mr Steel said. “We will consult with the community on banning these products or taking alternative regulatory or other measures.”

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126 Responses to ACT Government proposes ban on coffee cups, straws and plastic cutlery
Stuart Mawbey Stuart Mawbey 9:06 pm 23 Feb 19

Good thinking

Jen Russell Jen Russell 4:10 pm 23 Feb 19

Just drink from the container!

Vicki Cook Vicki Cook 7:40 am 22 Feb 19

Saw a post recently that said all of these things could be made from hemp which biodegrades in 28 days. No brainer!

Karyn Thompson Karyn Thompson 10:11 pm 21 Feb 19

What about those who have mobility issues or are unable to drink without straws. Is there a substitute for them??

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 10:41 pm 21 Feb 19

    I don't imagine they will need a substitute. Likely they will be available for those that need them; along with other aids. It's those who want them, rather them need them, this is aimed at.

    Sue Scott Sue Scott 12:13 am 22 Feb 19

    Karyn Thompson paper straws are still around

    Katie McGowan Katie McGowan 10:48 am 08 Jul 19

    Look at all these reusable straw options! And I'm sure there are many other websites with reusable straws where that came from!

Dwayne Still Dwayne Still 8:58 pm 21 Feb 19

Paper straws don't work there I said it

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 9:05 pm 21 Feb 19

    Strange, as I have used several lately and they worked find. Used to work before plastic straws came along too. They still work, so don't you worry.

    Dwayne Still Dwayne Still 9:12 pm 21 Feb 19

    Let me know how they go with a thick shake when you go through 5 straws to drink one thick shake

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 10:08 pm 21 Feb 19

    I don't like thick shakes, so haven't attempted it. However I drink iced coffee without a straw and have no problem, even with ice cream on top. Modify.

    Dwayne Still Dwayne Still 6:10 am 22 Feb 19

    Just because you don't like it doesn't mean it doesn't happen

    Peter Russell Peter Russell 12:20 pm 23 Feb 19

    Costco tried it my 2 kids went through 6 paper straws at one meal. Even i had to get a second one with my refill. Don't know what is the better option....

Carole Ford Carole Ford 8:13 am 21 Feb 19

How about people provide their own, have a small pack that can be attached like a water bottle to a belt loop, that way no waste, lick the clean, take them home, bring them back. Responsibility on the eater not the eatery!

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 12:05 pm 21 Feb 19

    I find it rare to visit a cafe that doesn't provide basic reusable plates, but I do carry water in a bottle I keep refilling. Sometimes it might be necessary to bring ones own knife and fork, so as to avoid plastic ones, but again I find that rare. One place I sometimes eat at in the Fyshwick markets has china cups and metal cutlery (all reusable), but for some weird reason, gives cakes on disposable plates. That's easily solved though, I point at the china saucers and ask them to please put my cake on one of them. This Saturday, I will be meeting with others at a venue which only has plastic/paper cups. I will be taking my own cup along. Then I have on a number of occasions walked out of cafes (letting them know why) that won't give me a reusable cup and found another cafe that will. One cafe's loss (especially the time I was in a small group and we all turned and walked) is another, more caring cafe's gain. Your comment is a good one though to remind people to think what's needed before they go out, and in some instances, to avoid places that don't supply reusable items. Either that, or as you said, take you own.

Adam Fitzsawsomeness Adam Fitzsawsomeness 8:04 pm 20 Feb 19

Good luck banning mcdonalds single use items...

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 10:42 pm 20 Feb 19

    If the items are banned here, McDonalds will have to comply. They won't be special. Most McDonalds already have china cups available. I always drink their coffee in a china cup.

    Tim Popham Tim Popham 9:44 pm 21 Feb 19

    Adam Fitzsawsomeness a few maccas already have the paper straws.

Aaron Fenning Aaron Fenning 7:47 pm 20 Feb 19

agreed with all...

Paul Rutherford Paul Rutherford 4:44 pm 20 Feb 19

Lol so that will mean big changes in hospitals!

Carrie Wright Carrie Wright 2:10 pm 20 Feb 19

What about the plastic wrap on The Chronicle and other newspapers that are home delivered? I remember thinking it was excessive when it was started - - this practice should stop

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 7:13 pm 20 Feb 19

    Yes that's lots of plastic. I used to save it to recycle, but now since China has refused plastic I suspect it's all going to landfill, so I put the plastic newspaper wrap in my bin. The daily newspaper wrap is now likely the main rubbish in my bin. I do use one in the kitchen bin and it holds one to two weeks worth of rubbish. For awhile the Chronicle was being delivered to my house (put in my letterbox) without a plastic wrap. I wondered if that deliverer had been against the plastic wrap and took their newspapers without the plastic. If that's it, well done that person.

Em Jay Vee Em Jay Vee 12:43 pm 20 Feb 19


JD Sevi JD Sevi 10:13 am 20 Feb 19

What plastic do you ever see in the lake or our waterways ? Very little if any. Self flaggellation in this town is rampant.. but sure ban straws, those cardboard ones work really well and will save the planet 🤔

Fee Mcgoo Fee Mcgoo 9:32 am 20 Feb 19

There are good alternatives

Robyn Selem Robyn Selem 8:28 am 20 Feb 19

Totally agree. Force people to change our ignorant ways.

Monica Lindemann Monica Lindemann 10:58 pm 19 Feb 19

Yes. Ban it all. Other, less damaging options will replace them.

Anohs Llihpmeh Anohs Llihpmeh 10:47 pm 19 Feb 19

A yes from me.

Caitlin Hanby Caitlin Hanby 10:32 pm 19 Feb 19

Yes, a ban is the answer

Frederica Heacock Frederica Heacock 10:25 pm 19 Feb 19

We’ll adapt

Joan Cornish Joan Cornish 10:09 pm 19 Feb 19

Fantastic! We lived in the world before these things were invented and we can live in the world afterwards. There are also plenty of alternative packaging options including those made from corn starch and recyclable paper. We should be eliminating plastics where ever we can. Let’s have a can-do attitude to protecting our beautiful world instead of getting petty...My new approach is to eat and drink in. It’s actually more relaxing mindful and less stressful than running about with food on the go.

Beck Bianco Beck Bianco 9:43 pm 19 Feb 19

Ok and are their replacements any better for the environment? Because you can’t just take them away, you need to replace them.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 9:51 pm 19 Feb 19

    What items do you have in mind with your comment?

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 10:19 pm 19 Feb 19

    Bianca Cotter Cutlery and cups can be reusable and washed between people. IE china or glass cups and normal washable cutlery. No need for bamboo cutlery and paper cups. Sit down to eat and drink. Besides I imagine paper only cups would leak. The present 'paper' cups have a plastic lining to stop this, which makes recycling difficult and the result is most likely aren't recycled. People have to get over the idea that everything has to be take-away and disposable. The mindset must change. As for straws they are rarely needed (except for people with medical issues). I had an iced coffee today (in a proper reusable glass) and a straw was offered but I said not needed. A reusable spoon did fine. (I don't like reusable metal straws because I am not convinced they would always be cleaned properly and I can taste them, or at least the only one I have tried.)

    Beck Bianco Beck Bianco 11:12 pm 19 Feb 19

    Bianca Cotter that’s what I want to know. I think bamboo is a good alternative, my understanding is that it’s easy to grow, doesn’t require land clearing, doesn’t need much water etc but I’m concerned we’ll se more wood/paper products that require land clearing to grow, suck nutrient from the soil and cut down more trees.

    I’m all for reducing plastic, but government has a habit of having half thought out policies that do as much damage as they intended to solve.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 11:55 pm 19 Feb 19

    Beck Bianco What is wrong with using cups, etc that can be washed and reused over and over? That ties in with the comment I made about needing to change the mindset that things need to be disposable. If bamboo does get used in huge quantities, there could well be land clearance.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 12:03 am 20 Feb 19

    Frazer Beliito Brown Exactly. Mindset change needed. It's called thinking.

    Tanya Louise Tanya Louise 8:12 am 20 Feb 19

    I have a stainless steel straw, a keep cup, reusable shopping bags, reusable cutlery, and bring a container to grab lunch. It's not difficult.

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