New South Wales has become the latest state to commit to ditching single-use plastics, announcing a $356 million five-year plan which could see lightweight plastic bags, disposable cutlery, cotton buds and more cut out by next year.
The commitment follows similar pledges from other states such as Western Australia, Queensland, Victoria, and the ACT, as well as pledges from businesses across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, such as the recent ANZPAC Plastics Pact.
Plastic straws, stirrers and cultery, polystyrene cups, takeaway containers, and cotton buds will be phased out over a 12-month period of when the plan is legislated. Within three years, the government will phase out supermarket plastic bags, as well as plastic cups and bowls.
ARA chief executive Paul Zahra congratulated the state government on the move, which he said is reflective of changing consumer sentiment.
“The announcement is also important because it moves us closer to national harmonisation on the phase-out of single-use plastics and positions NSW, the largest market for our members, as a leader in waste management and recycling,” said Zahra.
“And whilst we recognise the significant environmental impact caused by single-use plastics, we need to ensure that these important changes are implemented in a way that minimises operational impacts for our members, with cost-effective sustainable packaging alternatives available to support the phase-out.”
The World Wildlife Federation welcomed the decision, stating it had been a long time coming.
“Banning these items is a simple and effective way to protect our beautiful beaches and marine wildlife,” said WWF-Australia’s no plastics in nature policy manager Kate Noble.
“NSW should turn this momentum into action and commit to introducing legislation this year. Our precious oceans and marine wildlife cannot afford to wait.
“There are viable, sustainable alternatives to each of these items, so there’s no reason to delay action for another three years.”
According to the WWF, 130,000 tonnes of plastic flows into Australia’s environment each year.