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.
The South Australian retailers will lead the rest of the country by avoiding waste and offering sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic food service items.
From March 1, 2021, single-use plastic straws, cutlery and stirrers were 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 were also prohibited from sale, supply or distribution in South Australia.
Oxo-degradable plastic products were also 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.
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.