WA begins single-use plastics phase-out

Western Australia will phase-out a range of single-use plastics by 2023, according to the state government’s newly released Plan for Plastics roadmap.

The plan will be rolled out in two stages, with regulations to be developed and implemented by 2023 for the state-wide phase out of plastic plates, cutlery, stirrers, straws, thick plastic bags, polystyrene food containers and helium balloon releases.

After these initial actions, the state government will phase-out plastic barrier/produce bags, cotton buds with plastic shafts, polystyrene packaging, microbeads and oxo-degradable plastics.

According to Environment Minister Stephen Dawson, the policy is backed by the Western Australian community, with more than 98 per cent of those surveyed through the state government’s 2019 single-use plastics issue paper saying they supported further action.

“The time to act is now; plastic pollution is one of the greatest threats to wildlife around the world and, in 2018-19, only 11 per cent of Australia’s plastic waste was recycled with 89 per cent sent to landfill,” he said.

“Reducing our dependence on single-use plastics will help reduce our impact on the environment, waste streams and human health.”

Additional short-term actions include the introduction of Plastic Free Places trials with community partners, and the development of targeted community education programs to support implementation.

The state government will also seek feedback from industry and experts on other single-use plastics and packaging including pre-packaged fruits and vegetables.

“Waste problems are a shared legacy. I look forward to the implementation of this Plan for Plastics so we all contribute to the protection of our environment for future generations,” Dawson said.

He added that the state government acknowledges that some people require single-use plastic items, such as straws, to maintain their quality of life and that alternatives or going without are not appropriate.

“Before any phase-out the government will consult and discuss alternative measures closely with all sectors, particularly the disability, aged care and health sectors, to ensure measures are appropriate,” Dawson said.

“A working group will be established to ensure any regulatory actions to phase-out plastic straws will not negatively impact people requiring straws to meet their life needs. This will include continued supply of certain single‑use plastics to those who need them.”

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