The Plastic Reduction Bill 2020 passed the ACT Legislative Assembly last week, delivering a framework for progressively phasing out single-use plastics over time.
According to City Services Minister Chris Steel, the ACT is the second jurisdiction in Australia to take this step, with the first tranche of products to be banned from 1 July including plastic cutlery, drink stirrers and expanded polystyrene containers.
“Canberrans are already some of the nation’s best recyclers and we know this shift away from single use plastics is strongly supported by the Canberra community,” he said.
“It’s been fantastic to see that so many local businesses have already made the switch to more sustainable materials, reflecting our community’s values.
“Now we are making sure there is a level playing field for all businesses by banning the sale and use of cheap single-use plastics which do so much harm to our environment.”
The ACT Government will take an educative approach to compliance in the first stages of the ban, supporting business and the community to transition to the new requirements.
In an Australian first, the legislation also gives the ACT Government the power to declare public events as single-use plastic free.
This means that other single-use plastic items could be banned at public events beyond the initial items to be phased out from 1 July.
Steel said the decision to declare events single-use plastic free will be made in close consultation with event organisers.
In 2022 the ACT Government will seek to phase out a second tranche of single-use plastic items such as straws, barrier bags for fruit and vegetables, and all products made from degradable plastic.
Exemptions will be carefully designed to ensure people who need to use straws will still be able to access and use them.
Items such as plastic-lined single-use coffee cups and lids, single-use plastic dinnerware, boutique or heavyweight plastic bags, and cotton ear buds with plastic sticks remain under consideration for future phase outs from 2023 onwards.
“We look forward to working with the community, business and industry to implement the progressive phase out of single-use plastics so we can better protect our environment,” Steel said.
“I’d encourage all Canberrans to rethink their need for single-use plastic items or seek out alternatives.
“This will support an effective transition to the circular economy we need to build together.”