Western Australia’s plan to ban single-use plastics fast-tracked

Western Australia’s plan to ban single-use plastics fast-tracked
Western Australia’s plan to ban single-use plastics fast-tracked

The McGowan Labor Government has fast-tracked its Plan for Plastics by four years with single-use plastic bowls, cups, plates, cutlery, stirrers, straws, polystyrene food containers, thick plastic bags and helium balloon releases to be phased out by the end of the year.

The new timeframe will see Western Australia’s Plan for Plastics fully implemented by the end of 2022, four years earlier than originally planned.

Last year, WA was rated the leading jurisdiction in Australia for action on single-use plastics by the WWF Australia. The new timeframes will mean that WA remains a leader in this space.

“Single-use plastics have a terrible impact on our environment, wildlife, public health and recycling efforts, and the vast majority of Western Australians have told us that they want this to stop,” said Premier Mark McGowan. “By bringing the timeframes forward for single-use plastic bags we can harness the community’s enthusiasm and our collective desire for change to make important improvements quickly and effectively. The new timeframe still gives businesses time to adapt to these changes, with many businesses already switching to environmentally friendly alternatives at the request of customers,” he added.

Western Australia’s Plan for Plastics provides a roadmap towards a more sustainable, plastic-free WA by implementing regulations to ban items in a two-stage approach.

  • Stage One – now to be completed by December 31, 2021 – includes plastic plates, bowls, cups, cutlery, stirrers, straws, thick plastic bags, polystyrene food containers, and helium balloon releases; and
  • Stage Two – now to be completed by the end of 2022 – includes plastic barrier/produce bags, cotton buds with plastic shafts, polystyrene packaging, microbeads and oxo-degradable plastics. Takeaway coffee cups and lids with single-use plastic materials have also been added to the Plan for Plastics and will be phased out in stage two. Consumers and businesses will be able to use alternative environmentally friendly takeaway cups and lids.

Education and support for businesses will be the focus of the first six months after each stage, rather than compliance. The Plastic Free Places Program will help community organisations and businesses to adapt to become single-use plastic free.

People that require single-use plastic items to maintain their quality of life, such as those in the disability, aged care and health sectors, will be ensured a continued supply.

Western Australians showed strong support for the Plan for Plastics, with more than 98 per cent of those surveyed saying they supported further action on single-use plastics.

The fast-tracked single-use plastic bans will build on the lightweight plastic bag ban in 2018 and the Containers for Change container deposit scheme, which has seen 358 million beverage containers recycled and more than $1.46 million donated to charities and community groups since October 2020.

June 13, 2021

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