The ACT Government has released a discussion paper seeking contributions from the community on phasing out single-use plastics.
Minister for City Services Chris Steel said society can no longer throw away responsibility for the plastics littering our environment.
“Single-use plastic is commonly used for food packaging and includes items intended to be used only once before they are thrown away.
“Single-use plastic litters our waterways, city parks and bush landscapes and goes into landfill where it may take hundreds or even thousands of years to break down.
“As part of our responsible approach to managing our environment we are looking to phase-out single-use plastic in consultation with the community. We are taking real action to become Australia’s most sustainable city.”
“It is time that the ACT takes responsible action to reduce single-use plastics and build a circular economy, where we reduce our reliance on these products and move to better alternatives.”
Minister Steel said while the ACT has already acted to reduce single-use plastic bags, through the introduction of the plastic shopping bag ban in 2011, we have an opportunity to do more to reduce our plastic footprint.
“It is still common place to see takeaway shops continuing to use plastic-foam takeaway containers like it is still the 1980s. Supermarkets also continue to sell plastic plates, cups and cutlery – when it seems like there are clear alternatives already being sold on their own shelves.
“We want to hear from the community about how we can reduce the use of certain single-use plastics where there are clear alternatives that are good for the environment and practical for business, industry and consumers.”
Minister Steel said government was asking the community which problematic and unnecessary single-use plastics the government should focus on including:
- Plastic straws and stirrers
- Plastic cutlery
- Disposable plastic plates and cups
- Disposable plastic-lined coffee cups and lids
- Polystyrene (foam) plastic food containers and beverage cups
- Light-weight fruit and vegetable bags
- Other non-recyclable plastics
Proposed items which should be excluded from Government action at this time include:
- Microbeads (already being phased out)
- Plastic beverage containers
- Other plastic packaging (e.g. food packaging, consumer goods)
- Sanitary items
- Nappies and incontinence products
- Reusable plastic bags above 35 microns in thickness, including ‘green bags’, ‘biodegradable’ and ‘compostable’ bags
- Health related sterile items (e.g. syringes)
Minister Steel said any decisions to phase-out single use plastics are likely to have impacts on business, institutions and ACT residents, including people with a disability, and invites these groups to contribute to the discussion.
“We know from plastic straw bans from other parts of the world that we need to consider the social equity impact on people with a disability and I welcome their contribution on how we can responsibly manage our environment while taking these issues into account.
“I encourage all interested or affected Canberrans to join the conversation and tell us their ideas and what they would like us to consider in phasing-out unnecessary and problematic single-use plastics.”
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