More single-use plastic bans in ACT

single-use plastics

Canberrans are set to reduce even more waste going to landfill with the next phase of the ACT Government’s single-use plastics ban coming into effect from 1 July 2023.

From this date, single-use plastic plates and bowls; expanded polystyrene loose fill packaging and expanded polystyrene trays; and plastic microbeads in rinse-off personal care and cleaning products, cannot be supplied in the ACT.

From 1 January 2024, the ACT Government will also phase out heavyweight and boutique plastic bags.

“From January next year, plastic bags currently available at major supermarkets and retailers will be banned in a major win for the environment and our community,” said Chris Steel, Minister for Transport and City Services.

“There has been strong support for the shift away from single-use plastics and the transition to using more sustainable materials, which protect our local environment and reduce harmful waste going to landfill.

“The ACT Government undertook a 12-week consultation to inform our decision on the latest banned items, and we thank the community and industry for providing their valuable feedback on this.”

The new bans are in addition to the single-use plastic items already banned in the ACT since 2021 including: single‑use plastic cutlery, drink stirrers and plastic straws, expanded polystyrene takeaway food and beverage containers, cotton buds with plastic sticks, all oxo-degradable plastics and plastic bags that are less than 35 microns in thickness.

Steel said that other types of single-use plastics were included in the list of proposed items but consultation identified there were currently no suitable alternatives available. As a result, they have not been included in this ban but may be considered in the future as better substitutes are developed.

“Industry also told us they need time to prepare for the ban, particularly in relation to banning additional plastic bags,” he said.

“The ACT Government has listened to this and the ban on heavyweight and boutique plastic bags will not start for six months. We have also put in place other appropriate exemptions for some other items.”

Plastic takeaway containers, moulded expanded polystyrene packaging used for the packaging and protection of electronics, white goods, furniture and other bulky items and plastic bowls with a lid, will not be banned at this time.

A temporary exemption applies for plastic bowls and plates with a plastic lining or coating – they will be exempted until 31 October 2024 to harmonise with bans and exemptions in other states such as New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria and to allow industry time to develop non-plastic compliant solutions.

A permanent exemption applies for plastic bowls used in medical, scientific or forensic circumstances, as alternatives can compromise health and safety.

The ACT Government will also start consultation on expanding the container deposit scheme to include wine, spirit and cordial bottles.

“With more than 444 million containers recycled since our scheme started, including these additional items will make it even easier for Canberrans to recycle and cut waste going into landfill,” said Steel.

“These reforms demonstrate our ongoing commitment to building a circular economy.”

The ACT Government will take an education-first approach to the ban and will provide resources and information to support businesses with the transition.

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Related stories:

NSW bans single-use plastic bags, ACT cracks down on straws

 QLD to ban more single-use plastics


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