SA Govt considers ban on straws, coffee cups and cutlery

The South Australian Government is considering banning single-use plastic products which include straws, takeaway coffee cups and cutlery.

Along with a review into the more than 40-year-old Container Deposit Scheme, the government is seeking consultation on the ban of a number of single-use plastics with the release of a new discussion paper.

The Turning the tide on single-use plastic products discussion paper seeks feedback on whether the government should introduce measures to tackle a range of single-use items.

The paper asks whether government intervention if required for these items and in what form it could take.

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Among considerations in the paper are also whether the existing ban on single-use plastic bags should extend to thicker shopping bags, raising the question as to whether they should be made of compostable material. It asks what the impact would be of manufactures or importers.

According to the paper, plastic product has surged over the past 50 years, from 15 million tonnes in 1964 to 311 million tonne in 2014. It is expected to double again over the next 20 years.

The report also cites action on plastic in states such as France, Italy, which has banned plastic cotton buds. France has also banned plastic cups and plates and the UK intends to ban straws, with Brussels and Ireland and Portugal considering similar measures.

According to the paper, estimates suggest that South Australians could be using about 255,500,000 million straws per year.

Items excluded for the time being from the ban are microplastics/microbeads, non-plastic single-use disposable items, single-use plastic beverage containers and sanitary applications such as wet wipes.

Further work will be undertaken to evaluate the impact of a proposed ban on manufacturers or importers of single-use products. The paper cites an opportunity for these producers to redirect production to reusable and recyclable items.

“With a shift to reusable items, a single upfront purchase by the retailer will avoid future regular costs of purchasing the single use items, and thus may lead to a saving,” the paper says.

“There will be a cost to providing reusable items for consumption on site, but savings from not providing single-use items. The balance of the costs and savings will vary for different retailers and determine whether a switch away from single-use plastics can ‘pay for itself’ over time.”

Environment Minister David Speirs said South Australia is a national leader in recycling and resource recovery and it is important to have a discussion about single-use plastics and the Container Deposit Scheme.

“Increasing interest and action globally is calling for a halt to the impact of single-use plastics on the environment. In October 2018, the European Union announced its intention to ban a range of single-use plastic items.

“We can take more immediate local action on items that are designed and intended for disposal after only a single use, are prone to being littered, are unlikely to be recycled and for which more sustainable alternatives are available,” he said.

Consultation runs until 22 February 2019. Further information is available here.

War on Waste season 2 fights bottles, straws, e-waste and more

The first episode of Craig Reucassel’s War on Waste season two will broadcast on the ABC at 8:30 pm on Tuesday 24 July.

More than 4.3 million viewers watched the original series in 2017, which sparked one of the ABC’s most successful social media campaigns with a video on dumping edible bananas reaching 20 million views.

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Season two’s first episode will look at new issues around plastic water bottles and straws, and e-waste.

It will also delve deeper into previously discussed issues of food waste and Australia’s recycling crisis.

A giant footprint made of plastic packaging was created on Sydney’s Manly beach to highlight the amount of single-use plastic that ends up in waterways.

With more than 10 million plastic straws being used every day in Australia, Mr Reucassel joins forces with the minds behind the #strawnomore movement to challenge pubs and fast food chains to ban the straw from their venues.

The show will also look at Australia’s fastest growing waste stream, e-waste. With tonnes of discarded computers, mobile phones and electrical goods ending up in landfill, Mr Reucassel highlights the dangers of the toxic elements within them leaching into the environment.

War on Waste season two also sees Mr Reucassel going undercover to expose the amount of food that is wasted when eating at restaurants.

Waste Contractors and Recyclers Association of NSW Executive Director Tony Khoury said the issues of disposable water bottles will be placed under the microscope.

“Last year’s series saw tremendous media coverage extend to disposable coffee cups, single-use plastic bags, household food waste and the wasteful policy of retailers,” he said.

Mr Khoury said collectors and processor can help the war on waste by providing better education for waste generators, provide a range of recycling options, use modern equipment, transport all waste and recyclables to a lawful facility and invest in training for workers.

“We all can lobby the NSW Government to invest more of the $700 million collected from the waste levy into waste management programs and much needed infrastructure to divert more waste from landfill,” he said.

Image credit: ABC

ECU to phase out single-use plastics

Edith Cowan University (ECU) will begin phasing out single-use plastic water bottles and straws across all of its campuses from the start of semester two.

It follows initiatives on the east coast from the Universities of Canberra, Melbourne, Sunshine Coast and Monash University.

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ECU said it believes it is the first Western Australian University to limit the use of plastic water bottles on campus.

The phase out will be done as part of a staged approach to restrict single-use plastic water bottles. Beginning with around 40 events it holds on its campuses, ECU will instead provide water refill stations.

The university is also investigating solutions including an increase to the number of water fountains on campus, offering free or discounted multi-use water bottles on campus and discussing with commercial tenants for alternatives to single-use bottles.

ECU Vice-Chancellor Professor Steve Chapman said it was a big step forward for the University.

“With around 30,000 students and 1800 staff, we can make a huge difference by taking this first step to limit single-use plastic water bottles at our campus events,” Professor Chapman said.

“It’s also financially responsible. More than 90 per cent of the cost of bottled water can be traced back to the bottle, lid and label.

“This is not a ban. This is about education and providing alternatives. By offering high quality, convenient options to students, staff and visitors, we are confident we can reduce the demand for single-use plastic water bottles on our campuses.

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