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

Lachlan Roberts 19 February 2019 138

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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138 Responses to ACT Government proposes ban on coffee cups, straws and plastic cutlery
David Brown David Brown 2:01 pm 19 Feb 19

Why is that most of the recycling in Canberra is currently going to landfill?

    Joanne Morrison Joanne Morrison 2:42 pm 19 Feb 19

    David Brown China is not taking anymore recycling.

    Catherine Ford Catherine Ford 3:12 pm 19 Feb 19

    David Brown wow! Really? That’s terrible. Why is this happening?

    David Brown David Brown 3:23 pm 19 Feb 19

    Catherine Ford As I understand it, the Chinese who used to buy it stopped and a new buyer has yet to be found.

Janet Ilchef Janet Ilchef 2:02 pm 19 Feb 19

Do we really need a ban? Or just encouragement to do the right thing?

    Grant Robertson Grant Robertson 2:05 pm 19 Feb 19

    Janet Ilchef France did the ban, I’m sure we will survive

    Janet Ilchef Janet Ilchef 2:06 pm 19 Feb 19

    Grant Robertson I feel as though Australia can be over legislated unnecessarily

    Joanne McRae Joanne McRae 2:20 pm 19 Feb 19

    Grant Robertson Interesting about France. How do they provide liquid-proof containers for food, drinks, etc? For example, if someone wanted to buy a take away curry or soup, what type of container would it come in?

    Jackie White Jackie White 2:24 pm 19 Feb 19

    Considering the obesity levels, as an example, and recreational drug use and it's associated problems, let alone alcohol, and bad driving, 'encouragement to do the right thing' might be a spot of wishful thinking. Some will always do the right thing , but plenty need a ban and a whole lot of legislation for stuff to get through their heads...

    Mark McEwen Mark McEwen 5:48 pm 19 Feb 19

    Europe will be imposing the same ban across the whole EU. Yes this is necessary, We survived before plastics. The damage from plastics is far greater than just this mild inconvenience.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 9:33 pm 19 Feb 19

    Joanne McRae I used to buy take-away soup. Not rocket science, I always brought my own cup to be filled. Easy, easy...

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 2:38 am 20 Feb 19

    There has been lots of encouragement. Unfortunately doesn't work on many people.

Grant Robertson Grant Robertson 2:04 pm 19 Feb 19

Please do, so many okay alternatives, I used bamboo knives and forks recently, non plastic straws are becoming popular and I believe I have seen at least one recyclable coffee cup.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 9:37 pm 19 Feb 19

    Yes, I have been using recyclable coffee cups for years. They are made of china or glass and after I have used it they are recycled through the dish washer and used by another person.

Jesse Peter Jesse Peter 2:08 pm 19 Feb 19

its a nice idea but its also pissing in the wind - 90% of the ocean's plastic comes from china and india

    Mark McEwen Mark McEwen 5:53 pm 19 Feb 19

    Jesse, then we put pressure on them.. the whole of EU is going the same way with this ban, the time and place to start is here and now.

    Jesse Peter Jesse Peter 5:54 pm 19 Feb 19

    there is a strong argument to be made about well-off first-world countries taking the lead on this kind of thing.

    Tanya Louise Tanya Louise 8:16 am 20 Feb 19

    Actually in india soft drinks come in glass bottles that are collected and reused many times over. All brands.

Elizabeth Ann Thurbon Elizabeth Ann Thurbon 2:08 pm 19 Feb 19

Great idea. Take it out of our environment

Gwenneth Haig Gwenneth Haig 2:10 pm 19 Feb 19

Ban please. Lets set an example. Every bit counts!

    Mark McEwen Mark McEwen 5:49 pm 19 Feb 19

    Scott, why not do both?

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 9:31 pm 19 Feb 19

    Scott Abela Since the problem with China, most plastic is not recycled. Collecting plastic is not the same as recycling. A lot is just being sent to landfill. In some (western) countries 'recycling' is burning the plastic. https://www.abc.net.au/news/science/2018-03-03/recycling-industry-in-crisis-can-it-be-fixed/9502512

Dee Gee Dee Gee 2:24 pm 19 Feb 19

About time!

Patrick J Pentony Patrick J Pentony 2:26 pm 19 Feb 19

The problem is the law will actually just state a minimum strength of plastic to be used. These stronger plastics could be reused or it could be another case of the shopping bags where more plastic is used and a large group of people still treat them as single use.

    Imants Ezergailis Imants Ezergailis 2:45 pm 19 Feb 19

    Patrick J Pentony : You are right! People are the real problem, but you cannot blame them in case some snowflake litterbug takes offence!!

Jo Byrne Jo Byrne 2:27 pm 19 Feb 19

Yes do it

Cris Wright Cris Wright 2:31 pm 19 Feb 19

Sounds great!

Craig Dingwall Craig Dingwall 2:36 pm 19 Feb 19

Chinese takeaways will go bust.

    Martin Budden Martin Budden 4:19 pm 19 Feb 19

    Bamboo chopsticks ftw

    Craig Dingwall Craig Dingwall 4:37 pm 19 Feb 19

    Martin Budden nah, I meant more for carrying food home in the car. Wokitup boxes I suppose.

    Peter Bee Peter Bee 5:39 pm 19 Feb 19

    Craig Dingwall cardboard noodle box makers are behind this

Abigael Lola Abigael Lola 2:37 pm 19 Feb 19

Brendan Graetz your worst nightmares come true.

Tony Morris Tony Morris 2:41 pm 19 Feb 19

We have a OMC problem yet this rabble than to tackle the big issues. I doubt very much the wrapping from my pie today (put it in the bin) will be seen of the coast anytime soon.

Scott Welsh Scott Welsh 2:48 pm 19 Feb 19

A couple of years ago I might have said get stuffed, but I think the urgency in which we need to act to protect our environment is being highlighted and we the population are going to need to accept some inconvenience for the sake of this planet. I’m onboard.

Kim Uriarau Kim Uriarau 2:50 pm 19 Feb 19

Dine in or plan ahead.. If everyone brought along their own containers for the lunch they know they're going to eat, the waste would cut down immensely..

    Elizabeth Baldwin Elizabeth Baldwin 5:49 pm 19 Feb 19

    Kim Uriarau I stopped going to soul origin in the Canberra centre because they refuse to fill reusable containers. No justification other than policy. At the very least that should be outlawed!

    Kim Uriarau Kim Uriarau 6:17 pm 19 Feb 19

    Elizabeth Baldwin it’s just a company policy.. there is no legislation stating they can’t do it..

    Kim Uriarau Kim Uriarau 6:19 pm 19 Feb 19

    This is my community group if anyone is interested in joining.. for ideas, inspiration and support..

    Elizabeth Baldwin Elizabeth Baldwin 6:43 pm 19 Feb 19

    Kim Uriarau I know, but there should be law mandating it be an option for those who try to bring our own containers.

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 9:20 pm 19 Feb 19

    Elizabeth Baldwin Businesses that won't refill containers (presuming the containers appear clean) should be named and shamed.

Rachael Lizars Rachael Lizars 2:58 pm 19 Feb 19

I hope they consult with disability support and advocacy groups before implementing anything.

    Kim Uriarau Kim Uriarau 5:03 pm 19 Feb 19

    Valid point.. but the same forethought and planning can apply to the entire community..

    Rachael Lizars Rachael Lizars 5:17 pm 19 Feb 19

    It can, but does not in this case.

Beverlea Joce Beverlea Joce 3:16 pm 19 Feb 19

I agree too much is thrown away but if we get rid of plastic what do we use? Paper, cardboard, wood all comes from trees and we already cut down too many of them. Problem

    Tanya Louise Tanya Louise 8:08 am 20 Feb 19

    Reusable containers. I have a keep cup for coffee, a stainless steel straw and reusable cutlery. I take a container with me to grab lunch. It's not that hard

Terry Butters Terry Butters 3:17 pm 19 Feb 19

Because China doesn’t want it?

Renee Bink Renee Bink 3:18 pm 19 Feb 19

We are never leaving 😍 Ann Mayo

Peter Carter Peter Carter 3:31 pm 19 Feb 19

There goes the takeaway industry.

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