Debate over single-use plastics ban

From 1 November 2022, all manufacturers, wholesalers, businesses and community organisations will be banned from supplying a range of single-use plastic items.

THE NSW Government is continuing to ban certain single-use plastics, with new laws coming into place from next Tuesday.

From 1 November 2022, all manufacturers, wholesalers, businesses and community organisations will be banned from supplying a range of single-use plastic items.

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This follows the ban on lightweight plastic bags that came into place on 1 June.

Around 575 million plastic items were littered in NSW in 2019.

Much of these were single-use items, such as plastic bags, straws and cutlery.

Over time, these items break into smaller pieces of plastic.

They can be ingested by wildlife, killing or injuring them, and can enter the human food chain.

Plastics never completely degrade.

Over years, they break into tiny pieces called microplastics.

The phase out of single-use plastic items will help prevent an estimated 2.7 billion items of plastic litter from entering our natural environment and waterways over the next 20 years.

The items selected for the ban are littered at approximately 20 times the rate of other plastics.

Approximately 40 percent of these littered items end up in marine environments and waterways.

Of the 16,000 submissions the Government received when consulting on the future bans of plastics in NSW, 98 percent supported the phasing out single-use plastics.

From 1 November 2022, the following items will be banned:
• single-use plastic straws
• single-use plastic cutlery, including plastic chopsticks and sporks
• single-use plastic stirrers
• single-use plastic bowls (excluding bowls with a spill-proof lid)
• single-use plastic plates
• single-use plastic cotton buds
• expanded polystyrene food service items
• plastic microbeads in rinse-off personal care products such as face and body cleansers, exfoliants and masks, shampoo, conditioner and hair dyes, and toothpaste.

Minister for Environment James Griffin said the ban on single-use plastics is just the beginning of a massive shift away from single-use plastics in NSW.

“In June, we banned lightweight single-use plastic bags and from 1 November, we’re banning some of the most commonly littered single-use plastic items, including cutlery, plates, bowls, straws, and polystyrene food ware,” Mr Griffin said.

“About 95 percent of the litter on beaches and waterways comes from suburban streets, and single-use plastic items and packaging make up two thirds of all litter in NSW.”

Not all are pleased with the ban however, with the Liberal Democrats calling for the ban on single-use plastic items to be replaced with an education program and finding biodegradable alternatives to plastic.

Liberal Democrats NSW President, Dean McCrae, says there are far more effective long-term solutions than an immediate ban and penalties for non-compliance.

“The LibDems applaud the NSW Environment Protection Authority for their approach to first educate and raise awareness among the public to stop using non-biodegradable plastics,” Mr McCrae said.

“An education campaign that encourages consumers to swap to reusable shopping bags and refuse plastic containers is positive, and the change to shoppers’ behaviour should be accelerated.

“Ultimately, there must be less plastic waste going to landfill, and this will start to happen when biodegradable plastics, papers and bamboo products are more widely adopted,” Mr McCrae said.

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