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South Australia prepares to go plastic free

Environment

From 1 March, the sale, supply and distribution of single-use plastic straws, plastic cutlery and plastic stirrers will be banned throughout South Australia.

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Southport Surf Life Saving Club president Richard Olesinski said Surf Life Saving South Australia had already been implementing the changes in the past year.

Prior to the single-use plastic-ban legislation, 21 Surf Life Saving clubs had been signed up as a collective ‘plastic-free precinct’ as part of a 2019 State Government initiative to encourage locations to go single-use plastic free.

Olesinski cited an abundance of waste flowing into the coast from storm drains following heavy rainfall, and coastal wildlife found dead from plastic consumption, as major motivators for Surf Lifesaving to support the single-use plastic-ban.

“We’ve got to do something to eliminate that sort of impact on our coastal creatures,” Olesinski said.

Noarlunga Packaging customer service representative Josh Rosman said companies selling takeaway cutlery are well-prepared for the single-use plastic-ban to go ahead.

“We sell mountains of [environmentally-friendly products] already, and more and more people are switching over,” Rosman said.

Rosman said his company likely already sold more BioPak environmentally-friendly products than plastic products.

“[The single-use plastic-ban] will probably be good for us actually…  it will make things quite easy for us [because] now we’ll just have one product range we can pitch to customers,” he said.

“BioPak is making things as affordable and as close to all the plastic things as they can, so they can compete already.”

While the single-use plastic-ban will not be implemented in other Australian states, Rosman said Noarlunga Packaging would phase out as many plastic products as possible, even for their interstate customers.

“We’re all for doing the right thing by the planet and we just won’t stock [plastic products] anymore eventually,” he said.

Co-owner and manager of Adelaide café Laneway Espresso House Debra Robinson felt the implementation of the single-use plastic-ban should not be difficult because the hospitality industry had been given enough notice.

Robinson started replacing plastic products with environmentally-friendly versions gradually after taking over the café two years ago.

“We switched over [to compostable products] last year,” Robinson said.

“We have wooden cutlery and our takeaway cups are all biodegradable, and we use cardboard for the takeaway of our toasted sandwiches and things.

“We did go to stainless steel straws, and then COVID hit, so we’ve gone back to the paper straws.”

While alternative products are slightly more expensive than plastic, Robinson hoped prices will go down as those products become the norm in South Australia.

Robinson and Olesinski said young people are particularly conscious of being environmentally-friendly.

“A lot of younger people, they’ve been brought up with environmental education in the school system,” Olesinski said.

“We’re just continuing that in our recreational and community service pursuits.”

The single-use plastic-ban correlates with Surf Life Saving’s ECOSurf program, which was adopted in July 2020. The program’s main objectives include litter and waste management, recycling, stormwater pollution prevention and measures to conserve water.

Somerton ECOSurf helps keep Adelaide’s beaches free of plastic waste.

Olesinski said while he thought people are prepared to do the right thing going into the single-use plastic-ban, they need to be careful not to do more damage to the marine environment while doing so.

This was evidenced by a picture posted to volunteer environment group Adopt a Spot’s Facebook page, which showcased stacks of plastic stirrers and forks washed up at an Adelaide beach after seemingly being dumped ahead of the plastic ban.

“We have the most pristine coastal area, and we’ve got to protect it,” Olesinski said.

Robinson said most of the hospitality industry wanted to “take care of their part” when it comes to limiting waste.

“I think once everyone gets their head around it, I don’t think it’s going to be as bad as people are thinking it’s going to be,” Robinson said.

The single-use plastic-ban legislation passed State Parliament in September 2020, but implementation was delayed due to COVID-19, allowing the hospitality industry to continue to use single-use products for hygiene purposes.

The ban is expected to extend to polystyrene cups, bowls, plates, clamshell containers, and all products with oxo-degradable plastic in early 2022.

This is a Creative Commons story from The Lead South Australia, a news service providing stories about innovation in South Australia. Please feel free to use the story in any form of media. The story sources are linked in with the copy and all contacts are willing to talk further about the story.

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