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Australian state takes lead on plastics ban


South Australia is poised to become the first Australian state to ban a range of single-use plastic products including plastic straws, cutlery and stirrers.

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A range of other products such as disposable coffee cups and takeaway containers will be considered for future intervention.

The proposed legislation will be introduced into the South Australian Parliament following today’s public release of Turning the Tide on Single Use Plastics: The Next Steps, which outlines how the ban would work.

The state’s Environment and Water Minister David Speirs said a discussion paper earlier this year received strong feedback from South Australians keen to see action on single-use plastics.

“It is clear from the more than 3500 submissions that there is significant community and industry support for increased measures to address a range of single-use plastic products and other items,” he said.

“Nearly 99 per cent of respondents recognised the environmental problems associated with single use plastics and nearly 97 per cent supported government intervention.

“The community has called for swift action on single-use plastic products.”

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South Australia led the nation with a ban on lightweight, checkout-style plastic bags in 2009. The Northern Territory, ACT, Tasmanian and New South Wales governments have since followed.

Initial research undertaken by the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute for Marketing Science at UniSA showed that more than nine in 10 shoppers took reusable bags to do their shopping, compared to about six in 10 before the ban took effect.

The banning of the additional single-use plastic products will also be piloted through voluntary business/retailer led ‘plastic-free precincts’, which will identify opportunities and challenges associated with transitioning away from single-use plastic products.

Minister Speirs said the draft legislation would be released for further public consultation later this year with the intention to introduce it to the Parliament in 2020.

“At first, we will look at products including plastic straws, cutlery and stirrers with items such as takeaway polystyrene containers and cups next,” he said.

“Further consideration would be needed when looking at takeaway coffee cups, plastic bags and other takeaway food service items following consultation … and to ensure that we continue to maintain this state’s reputation as a leader in waste management.”

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