Plastic-free public events in ACT

national plastics plan

In an Australian first, the ACT Government has declared public events as ‘plastic-free’ under the Plastic Reduction Act, passed earlier this year. It is also engaging with the community and industry on the phase-out of the second tranche of single-use plastic items from 1 July 2022.

The Royal Canberra Show, Australia Day in the Capital, National Folk Festival, Enlighten Festival, The Balloon Spectacular, Symphony in the Park, Canberra Day and Reconciliation Day will be prohibited from supplying plastic straws, plastic takeaway containers and single-use plastic plates and bowls, in addition to already banned products.

In recognition of the needs of people with disability and medical conditions, plastics straws will still be made available to members of the community who may need them at these events.

Geoff Cannock, Chief Executive Officer of the Royal National Capital Agricultural Society said taking action to reduce plastics was the right fit for the Royal Canberra Show – which returns on 25-27 February 2022, after being cancelled this year due to COVID-19.

“Families across the region love the Royal Canberra Show. It’s one of the ACT’s most iconic and longest-running events, so we want to be able to lead by example and show we can make changes to create a cleaner world,” Cannock said.

Chris Steel, Minister for Transport and City Services said single-use plastic products create persistent waste which piles up in landfills and litters landscapes and waterways.

“We know Canberrans want to take everyday action on climate change by cutting down their consumption of these harmful plastic. Progressively phasing out these products helps set a level playing field for industry and business, accelerating the shift to more sustainable alternatives.”

Industry consultation is under way on the next tranche of items to be banned from July 2022 under the government’s updated Single Use Plastics Policy. These include: single-use plastic straws (with exemptions for those who need them), single-use plastic fruit and vegetable barrier bags, cotton buds with plastic sticks and all oxo-degradable plastic products ­– such as degradable plastic bags and degradable dog waste bags.

Plastic cutlery, stirrers and expanded polystyrene containers have already been banned under tranche 1 of the phase-out on 1 July 2021.

“The ACT Government has identified the tranche 2 items well ahead of time and has been consulting with industry and disability organisations on the implementation of the phase-out over the past two years,” Steele said. “This is the final opportunity to hear from individuals, businesses, community organisations, institutions and peak bodies who would be affected by the ban.

“We are particularly keen to hear from people with a disability and their advocates about exemptions for the supply of straws to people with a disability based on the South Australian and Queensland models. In these jurisdictions straws are still available at pharmacies or care facilities, and in South Australia at hospitality venues upon request, without needing to present any evidence.”

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