For generations the South Australian community has been at the forefront of embracing positive environmental behaviours: from the introduction of container deposit legislation in the 1970s, to the plastic bag ban in 2009, and, more recently, to ensuring food waste is put in kerbside collected green bins for composting.
On September 9 2020, the South Australian Parliament passed the Single-use and Other Plastic Products (Waste Avoidance) Act 2020. This legislation is the first of its kind in Australia and a positive step towards avoiding waste.
THE STEPS WE HAVE TAKEN
The Single-use and Other Plastic Products (Waste Avoidance) Act 2020 (the SUP Act) commenced on 1 March 2021, prohibiting the sale, supply or distribution of single-use plastic drinking straws (subject to exemptions for disability or medical needs), cutlery and beverage stirrers.
On 1 March 2022, the prohibition extended to include expanded polystyrene cups, bowls, plates and clamshell containers and oxo-degradable plastic products.
The Turning the Tide (2021) – The future of single-use plastic in South Australia discussion paper (Turning the Tide 2021) was released on 5 December 2021. It sought feedback from the community and businesses on whether further products should be prohibited from sale, supply and distribution in South Australia under the SUP Act and also suggested indicative timing for any future bans.
It is recognised around the world that phasing out single-use plastics is an important and achievable step in striving to reduce pollution, cut carbon emissions and protect marine life. Without action, the annual flow of plastic into the ocean alone will nearly triple by 2040 to 29 million metric tonnes per year, the equivalent of 50 kilograms of plastic for every metre of coastline worldwide.
South Australia has taken steps to address the impacts associated with a range of single-use and other plastic products and was the first jurisdiction in Australia to do so on a state-wide basis. Other states and territories have since followed South Australia's lead.
Following this most recent consultation process, South Australia intends to continue its leadership in phasing out unnecessary single-use and other problematic plastic products. It is considered appropriate that the timing of any future product bans provides sufficient time for business, industry, and the community to prepare and avoid busy trading periods such as Easter and Christmas. Regulations to support further product bans for all the products discussed in Turning the Tide 2021 will be progressively implemented under the framework of the SUP Act over the coming years.
For all the products, consideration will be given to defining the product so it is clear what is being banned and also whether any exemptions may be required.