LEADING THE WAY
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.
South Australia is known as the festival state. Our event and venue managers can lead the rest of the country by avoiding waste and offering sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic food service items.
Whether the event is large or small, regular or a one-off, based regionally or in a metropolitan, event coordinators, venue managers and councils involved in coordinating or issuing approvals for events should ensure compliance with this legislation.
From March 1, 2021, single-use plastic straws, cutlery and stirrers will be prohibited from sale, supply or distribution in South Australia. These single-use items can be replaced with reusable and compostable alternatives. Exemptions apply for single-use plastic straws.
From March 1, 2022, expanded polystyrene cups, bowls plates and clamshell containers will also be prohibited from sale, supply or distribution in South Australia.
Oxo-degradable plastic products will also be prohibited from manufacture and production in the state. Oxo-degradable plastic products have additives which enable the plastic to break down into tiny fragments (‘microplastics’) rather than completely decompose.
Plastics play an important role in our economy and daily lives. When used in packaging, plastic can help ensure food safety and reduce food waste. But too often, the way plastics are produced, used and discarded results in a wasted resource, causing pollution, litter and harm to wildlife, including marine life. South Australians are committed to the environment and want action on single-use plastic products. By avoiding waste and shifting to reusable or recyclable options we are ensuring the best environmental outcome for our ‘clean and green’ state.
The legislation prohibits the sale, supply or distribution of single-use plastic straws, beverage stirrers and cutlery. Single-use plastic products are designed to be used once, or for a limited number of times, often away from home, and thrown away after a brief use.
Exemptions allow for the sale, supply and distribution of single-use plastic straws for people with a disability or health needs. An exemption also allows for single-use plastic straws attached to products such as juice or milk boxes to be excluded from the list of prohibited items.
Compliance in South Australia will be enforced by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).
EVENT MANAGERS: WHAT TO DO NOW
STEP 1: UNDERSTAND THE ‘RULES’
From March 1 2021 there are mandatory requirements to supply reusable, recyclable or compostable food packaging and service ware at events. Consider whether you really need to have all, or some, of these types of items available for patrons, as you may be able to reduce your costs.
- Stop ordering single-use plastic straws unless you intend to keep these for people with a disability health needs – it’s your choice.
- Flexible/bendable single-use plastic straws are generally used by people with access requirements.
STEP 2: ORDERING ALTERNATIVES
- Do not order compostable plastic items such as those made from Polylactic Acid (PLA) as this is also prohibited for single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cutlery.
- What to know more about PLA? Read the fact sheet here.
- Download Green Industries SA list of Suppliers of Alternative Products here. You will receive details such as:
- Brand name, manufacturer and availability
- Product composition including glues and coatings (where applicable)
- Product or material specifications and claimed standards/certification
- Whether the product is re-usable, recyclable or compostable
- Wholesale and retail costs
- Safety e.g. if item is unsuitable for holding certain liquids or hot foods.
The reference to a particular product or company in the list does not mean an endorsement by Green Industries SA.
STEP 3: EXCESS STOCK OPTIONS
Don’t stockpile unused products for a rainy day unless you choose to retain single-use straws for people with a disability or health needs. Here are some options to avoid sending single-use items to landfill:
Contact your supplier for return options. These products may still be used interstate but items should be in the original, unopened packaging.
Enquire if excess stock can be recycled – this depends on the type of plastic and if it has a use. Contact these companies (fees may apply):
Phone: 1300 503 882
Recycling Plastics Australia
Phone: 08 8359 1111
If single-use plastic drinking straws are in the original unopened packaging these straws may be able to be donated for use by those with a disability or health needs under the exemption to the Act.
STEP 4: PREPARE FOR DISPOSAL
Correct disposal of compostable items may mean changing your waste management and recycling systems and practices, so prepare now.
In response to customer expectations, businesses are increasingly introducing collection systems to recycle and avoid food waste – speak to your waste contractor for more information.
STEP 5: EDUCATE YOUR STAFF
- Tell staff about the new legislation and how your event is going to avoid or replace the waste.
- Train staff to communicate the change to patrons.
- See the Talking Points here.
STEP 6: INFORM YOUR STAKEHOLDERS AND PATRONS
- Help your stakeholders and patrons to transition by communicating the change early.
- Tell patrons with disability and health needs if single-use plastic straws will be available for their use on request.
- Encourage patrons to BYO their own reusable straws where appropriate.
- See the Talking Points here.