No time to waste on banning single-use plastics, ACT Greens tell Government

Ian Bushnell 16 October 2019 22
Single-use plastics

A range of products that the Greens say should be banned. Photo: File.

The ACT Greens have given the ACT Government a hurry-up on single-use plastics, calling on it to commit to banning a range of products by 2022, and to plan for an orderly transition to a future free of the environmentally damaging items.

ACT Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur said the ACT could become a world leader in the war on waste by acting now to begin phasing out these products that were contaminating the land environment and ending up in the oceans.

She said the government, which conducted a public consultation on single-use plastics from April to July this year but is yet to release a report on the findings, was due to renew the ACT’s waste management contracts by 2023.

But Ms Le Couteur says the Government should start the work now to be ahead of the curve in what she calls the necessary transition towards a single-use plastic-free future.

“By starting early – now – the ACT Government could become a world leader in the ‘war on waste’ – well before this contract is negotiated, and well before the inevitable day comes when single-use plastic is no longer widely used,” she said.

Following its own submission to the government consultation, the Greens are calling on the government to take aim at single-use plastic takeaway containers, cups, crockery, cutlery, straws and stirrers from takeaway food outlets in the ACT.

They also want single-use polystyrene products in the ACT – including coffee cups, plates, bowls, takeaway food containers, packing ‘peanuts’ and food trays used in supermarkets – to be banned.

Disposable plastic water bottles in Government schools, hospitals, office buildings and other facilities should be replaced by reuseable containers as well.

“Single-use plastic may be convenient to use for a few minutes, but the time, effort and energy that goes into producing this ‘throwaway’ plastic just doesn’t stack up, while the volume of plastic making its way into our oceans and waterways continues to grow every year,” Ms Le Couteur said.

“There are plenty of plastic-free alternatives becoming readily available. Many Canberrans are choosing to move away from single-use plastic items and are choosing more sustainable options like reusable coffee cups, bringing their lunch from home, or simply purchasing products that don’t come in insidious packaging, such as polystyrene.”

But Ms Le Couteur said it would be important to evaluate the impacts on consumers for changes to individual items such as alternatives to plastic straws for people with disabilities.

“An orderly transition, made in consultation with the community, will ensure that no-one is disproportionately impacted by this important shift. Food halls may wish to invest in reuseable crockery and cutlery now to be ready for a ban,” she said.

Ms Le Couteur said the tide was turning on the use of single-use plastics with a Senate inquiry finding last year that there should be a national ban on single-use plastic products within five years, and other countries and jurisdictions moving to ban or phase them out.

The ACT banned single-use plastic shopping bags in 2011.

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22 Responses to No time to waste on banning single-use plastics, ACT Greens tell Government
BioPak BioPak 10:37 am 17 Oct 19

Did you know that businesses in Canberra can now divert their compostable packaging along with food scraps from landfill via the #BioPakCompostService? It's easy as 👉

Glen Tobin Glen Tobin 6:24 pm 16 Oct 19

Ben Thomas

Why not use glass or hemp based plastic

Angela Thomas Angela Thomas 4:23 pm 16 Oct 19

My goodness, a return to the good old days when we bought milk in glass bottles, bought our veggies in paper bags, had our cheese wreaked in grease proof paper and our fish and chips in newspapers. Nothing new under the sun is there!

Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 4:08 pm 16 Oct 19

Do it now. Why wait.

Katrina Ann Katrina Ann 4:01 pm 16 Oct 19

I went to the ‘return it’ station and found out that I need to put all the bottles to be recycled in a clear plastic bag! So it appears to recycle I need to buy more single use plastic to do this. 😳

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 4:05 pm 16 Oct 19

    Yes, that's crazy. I hardly have any plastic bags at home to use, as I have rarely taken them at the shops for many years; likely more than 30 years. Not that I ever have many bottles to cycle, as I almost never buy them either. Maybe one or two a year at most.

    Katrina Ann Katrina Ann 4:45 pm 16 Oct 19

    Julie Macklin I’ll be putting them in my yellow bin rather than use that facility - which was something my daughter wanted to do to recycle and get some pocket money. Promotes more plastic waste

    Julie Macklin Julie Macklin 5:47 pm 16 Oct 19

    Katrina Ann I put them in my yellow bin too, as I don't get many plastic bottles to recycle, or have the spare plastic bags to put them in.

    Claudine Norton Claudine Norton 10:08 pm 16 Oct 19

    Yeah that’s the downfall when it came to my local shops.i would rather collect hundreds and then take them to be counted manually

    Katrina Ann Katrina Ann 6:50 am 17 Oct 19

    Claudine Norton yes! Adding a plastic bag to the scenario feels wrong! I had expected to insert the bottles into the machine individually - I took a box full and realised I couldn’t do it that way. We are trying to makes changes to the environment but don’t seem to think the whole thing through. It’s a bit like the supermarkets replacing single use plastic bags with thick bags in the hope that people will reuse them - I very much doubt that happens. Why don’t shops just go back to paper bags?!

James Kozanecki James Kozanecki 3:57 pm 16 Oct 19

Given that a lot of South East Asian countries have banned things like straws, and are actively looking at ditching other single-use plastics, I'm sure it can't be too hard for Australia to do the same

Peter McDonald Peter McDonald 10:16 am 16 Oct 19

I watched a 17 year old throw his food container on the ground in Civic on Saturday because there wasn’t a bin within 5 metres of him. Most of the youth don’t get it.

    Leigh Brady Leigh Brady 10:18 am 16 Oct 19

    One anecdote doesn’t make that true.

    Children are generally much more environmentally focussed.

    Peter McDonald Peter McDonald 10:29 am 16 Oct 19

    Leigh Brady what about the car load of youths I see throwing bags of Macers out of car windows? I see retries collecting rubbish along road sides every day of the week. I’ve never seen youth doing this apart from one day of the year when they can post on fb with there CUA tee shirt.

    Martin McMaster Martin McMaster 11:40 am 16 Oct 19

    yep. Single use plastics is all the fault of youths

    Rob Thomas Rob Thomas 1:29 pm 16 Oct 19

    Peter McDonald Your anecdotes doesn’t make that true.

    Children are generally much more environmentally focussed.

    Frances Jane Frances Jane 8:21 pm 16 Oct 19

    Yet I see adults throw their Maccas rubbish out their windows while driving.

    Lu Mi Lu Mi 8:58 pm 16 Oct 19

    Frances Jane and cigarettes.

    Amanda Evans Amanda Evans 10:17 pm 17 Oct 19

    Peter McDonald one kid!

    John White John White 8:56 pm 18 Oct 19

    Leigh Brady That's true Leigh - my four year old is very concerned about every piece of rubbish we come across walking around the suburb!

Daniel Oyston Daniel Oyston 10:07 am 16 Oct 19

A hurry up 🙄🤦‍♂️

Capital Retro Capital Retro 8:33 am 16 Oct 19

“The ACT banned single use plastic shopping bags in 2011.”

You have got to be joking surely because they are still supplied at supermarkets and most retail stores.

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