ACT Advances in Phasing Out Single-Use Plastics

Ethan Robinson 10/07/2023 Waste Management
act single use plastic ban

The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has taken another step towards reducing plastic pollution by implementing further bans on certain single-use plastic items. This move is part of a broader shift by businesses and communities in the region to move away from plastic.

As of July 1, the ACT has prohibited the sale, supply, and distribution of single-use plastic plates and bowls, expanded polystyrene loose-fill packaging, expanded polystyrene trays, and plastic microbeads found in rinse-off personal care and cleaning products. The ACT Government has also announced plans to ban all heavyweight plastic and boutique shopping bags that are more than 35 microns thick, starting from January 1, 2024.

Chris Steel, the Minister for Transport and City Services, noted that the Canberra community and businesses have been supportive of the gradual elimination of single-use plastics. He highlighted the significant role of large retailers, such as Woolworths, in this transition. Their commitment to using more sustainable materials has been crucial in reducing waste that ends up in landfills or litters the environment.

To facilitate this transition, the National Retail Association (NRA), on behalf of the ACT Government, is adopting an education-first approach. They plan to visit 1600 retailers by the end of 2023, providing them with information and resources to help with the transition. This initiative is particularly focused on suppliers, small-to-medium or independent retailers, and culturally and linguistically diverse retailers, who represent a significant portion of businesses affected by the ban.

In addition to these measures, the ACT Government is in the process of finalizing Canberra’s first Circular Economy Strategy. This strategy will inform future decisions on waste reduction and will encourage businesses to adopt sustainable practices and create green jobs.

David Stout, Director of Policy at the NRA, and Matthew Spiteri, General Manager for ACT at Woolworths, both praised the ACT Government for its commitment to environmental sustainability and its collaborative approach with industry, community, and the public.

Environmental Impact

Single-use plastics pose a significant threat to our environment. They are non-biodegradable, meaning they do not decompose naturally and can persist in the environment for hundreds to thousands of years.

When discarded improperly, these plastics can end up in our oceans, harming marine life and ecosystems. They can also contribute to land pollution when they are dumped in landfills.

In the ACT, the move to ban single-use plastics is a significant step towards reducing this environmental harm. It is estimated that this initiative will significantly decrease the volume of plastic waste generated in the region, thereby reducing the burden on landfills and the risk of plastic pollution in natural habitats.

Impact on Businesses

The ban on single-use plastics in the ACT will undoubtedly have an impact on local businesses, particularly those in the food service and retail sectors. Businesses will need to source and transition to alternative products, which may initially involve additional costs.

However, many businesses are likely to find that in the long run, investing in reusable or compostable alternatives can be cost-effective. Moreover, as consumers become increasingly aware of environmental issues, businesses that demonstrate a commitment to sustainability can enhance their reputation and attract more customers.

The ACT Government is providing support to businesses during this transition, offering resources and guidance to help them comply with the new regulations.

Alternatives to Single-Use Plastics

There are numerous environmentally friendly alternatives to single-use plastics:

  • Plates and Bowls: Instead of using plastic plates and bowls, businesses and individuals can opt for reusable or compostable options. These can be made from materials like bamboo, paper, or bioplastics.
  • Polystyrene Trays: Expanded polystyrene trays can be replaced with trays made from recycled cardboard or other biodegradable materials.
  • Plastic Microbeads: In personal care and cleaning products, natural alternatives to plastic microbeads can be used. These include substances like salt, sugar, or ground almond shells.

The ACT Government, along with various environmental organizations, provides resources and guidance to help businesses and individuals transition to these alternatives.

For businesses seeking more detailed information on how the single-use plastic ban might affect them and how they can adapt, we recommend visiting our page on the Business Implications of Australia’s Single-Use Plastic Ban. This article provides comprehensive insights and guidance tailored to help businesses navigate this significant change.

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  • Ethan Robinson

    Ethan is a content editor with a background in environmental journalism. He’s an enthusiastic home cook and collector of vintage records.

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