The Queensland Government has re-introduced legislation to ban single-use plastic items in Queensland, starting with straws, stirrers, cutlery and plates.
Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef Meaghan Scanlon said that the government was committed to reducing the devastating impact of plastic waste on marine life and the environment.
“We have banned single-use plastic bags, we introduced the highly successful Containers for Change program and banning single-use plastics like straws and stirrers is the next important step”, said Minister Scanlon.
“Importantly, we’ve consulted broadly to ensure that these changes reflect what Queenslanders want.
“In March 2020, we asked Queenslanders to decide the future of single-use plastic items, and the overwhelming majority were in favour a ban.
“The community’s sentiment is clear, with 94 per cent of the 20,000 respondents supporting the proposal to ban single-use plastic items.
“Now, we also want to know what Queenslanders think about including expanded polystyrene food containers and cups.
“This consultation is very important because we want to make sure we hear everyone’s perspectives on single-use expanded polystyrene items – community and industry alike.
“In recognition of the fact that this has been a difficult year for many small businesses in the hospitality sector, the ban’s start date will be no earlier than 1 September 2021, and we will confirm the start date once the Bill passes in early 2021.
“This will allow businesses and the hospitality industry time to source appropriate products and further consultation to occur.
“Queensland businesses, just like others around the world, have been impacted by the global coronavirus pandemic and because of Queensland’s strong health response we’re able to deliver Queensland’s plan for economic recovery.
“We’re getting on with the job delivering for Queenslanders.
“This Bill will ban the supply and sale of single-use plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery and plates, and provide provisions for more single-use plastic items to be banned in the future, subject to public consultation.”
Toby Hutcheon of Boomerang Alliance said that including expanded polystyrene products, after further consultation, was a welcomed improvement.
“It means the most obvious plastic littered items will be dealt with in this legislation,” said Mr Hutcheon.
“Local government, retailer associations and environment groups have all called for expanded polystyrene products to be included in the plastics ban. There are preferred alternatives available that are less harmful to the environment.
“Including expanded polystyrene products, after further consultation, makes sense and ensures the legislation is consistent with the other jurisdictions proposing similar takeaway plastic bans.”
Minister Scanlon said that the Bill recognised the needs of vulnerable community members and considers the needs of the disability, aged care and health sectors by providing exemptions.
Queensland Disability Advisory Council Chair Sharon Boyce said that while many within the disability community relied heavily on straws, they were also supportive of protecting the environment and were eager to be part of a conversation that sought a solution.
“In addition to being advocates for our own needs, many within our community are also strong environmental advocates. We recognise the urgent need to find a solution that works for us and keeps destructive straws out of our environment, our waterways, our parks and our wider community,” she said.
Queenslanders, stakeholders and the community are encouraged to provide feedback by visiting https://www.qld.gov.au/environment/pollution/management/waste/recovery/reduction/plastic-pollution/expanded-polystyrene