The Queensland Government has introduced legislation to ban single-use plastic items in Queensland, starting with straws, stirrers, cutlery and plates.
Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Leeanne Enoch said the government was committed to reducing the destructive impact of plastic waste on our waterways, marine life and environment.
“First our government banned single-use plastic bags, then we introduced the highly successful Containers for Change program, and now we have taken the next step in our war on plastic waste by introducing this Bill,” Ms Enoch said.
“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.
“That’s an overwhelming statement from communities wanting to find a positive solution to reducing plastic waste and protecting our environment,” she said.
As well as banning the supply and sale of single-use plastic 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.
“We know Queensland businesses, just like other businesses around the world are being impacted by the global coronavirus pandemic,” the Minister said.
“Because we’ve had a strong health response, we’ve already started delivering Queensland’s plan for economic recovery.
“A big part of that is supporting Queensland businesses because that means supporting Queensland jobs.
“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.
“90 per cent of submissions supported a proposed start date of 1 July 2021,” Ms Enoch said.
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.
Toby Hutcheon, Queensland Manager, Boomerang Alliance said they welcome the ban, which is the next step in reducing plastic litter.
“These items are amongst the most littered items in Queensland. According to Clean Up Australia 36 per cent of all litter in Queensland is plastic packaging,” Mr Hutcheon said.
Minister Enoch said that we recognise our most vulnerable community members and this Bill considers the needs of the disability, aged care and health communities by providing an exemption for these sectors.
Queensland Disability Advisory Council Chair Sharon Boyce said 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,” Ms Boyce said.
The Palaszczuk Government is 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.