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Plastic presents an ever-growing challenge to our society and our planet. It has wide-ranging uses and benefits across every facet of our daily life, from preserving and packaging food and keeping medical equipment sterile, through to manufacturing cars and planes, computers, phones and televisions, to name a few.

However, rising plastic consumption is an ever-increasing threat to our environment. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic (by weight) in our oceans than fish, which may take hundreds or even thousands of years to break down.

The ACT has already acted to reduce single-use plastic bags, with the introduction of the plastic shopping bag ban in 2011. But there is a need to take this further and avoid using plastic where it is feasible and practical to do so. Examining how we use – or avoid – consumer single-use plastic items such as bags, straws, food containers and disposable plastic cutlery is a collective discussion that we need to have.

How you had YourSay:

Thank you for everyone who provided their feedback on phasing out single-use plastics, how we can best reduce our plastic waste and improve environmental outcomes.

We invited the community and industry to have their say by:

  • reading the discussion paper and completing a survey
  • sharing a short comment here on YourSay
  • registering to stay updated with further opportunities to have their say throughout April-July.

At the end of the consultation period on 31 July 2019, we had registered more than 3300 interactions, including survey responses, submissions, YourSay comments and attendance at several community and business information sessions. You can read the engagement report or many of the submissions which are available in the Document Library.

We are looking at:

Single-use plastics are filling our waterways, city parks and bush landscapes as well as our landfill, and as a community we need to do more to reduce our plastic footprint.

The ACT has already taken steps to address the impact of single-use plastic through the plastic bag ban introduced in 2011 and are now looking to identify further options we could explore as a Territory to avoid other single-use plastic products.

Single-use plastic is commonly used for packaging and includes items intended to be used only once before they are thrown away or recycled.

Common types of unnecessary, avoidable or replaceable single-use plastic items, and those items that are the focus of the discussion paper and our engagement with the community, include plastic bags, straws and stirrers, disposable containers, disposable cups, lids, plates and cutlery. For more information view the frequently asked questions on the FAQ tab.

We will use your views to:

The ACT Government has a suite of approaches it can use to influence a reduction in plastic waste that include non-regulatory measures, intermediate and regulatory measures. A combination of approaches may be necessary to effect the greatest change.

We recognise the importance of any decision to reduce plastic waste and the impacts it may have and need your help to determine what change may be appropriate for the ACT.

Your feedback will inform what the ACT Government does in the short and long term to address single-use plastic, if a phase out or ban on single use plastic is introduced, and what plastic products this might include.

Fast facts

Source:

FAQs

What are single-use plastics?

Single-use or disposable plastic is commonly used for plastic packaging and includes items intended to be used only once before they are thrown away or recycled. This includes plastic bags, bottles, straws, disposable coffee cups and lids, cutlery and plates and takeaway containers.

What items are being looked at?

While there are many problematic and unnecessary single-use plastics that we could act on, the discussion paper focuses on single-use items that may be avoidable or for which there is an alternative available. Some of the items for consideration include:

It should be noted that this list isn’t exhaustive or definitive, and the ACT Government is seeking feedback on possible items to be included or excluded.

What are some easy things I can do reduce my use of these plastics?

Use a Keep-cup or similar when you go to get a takeaway coffee – which will save you money too. You can also get mesh bags to use when you shop for fruit and vegetables instead of using the green plastic bags often available.

What items aren’t being looked at?

The discussion paper is looking at single-use items that may be avoidable, or for which there is an alternative available. Some of the items not being considered as part of this paper include.

It should be noted that this list isn’t exhaustive or definitive, and the ACT Government is seeking feedback on possible items to be included or excluded.

Why not just ban single-use plastics now?

Phasing out single-use plastics requires extensive planning, consultation and time to ensure that it can be done in a considered and effective manner. We need to explore the possible impacts and work with the community and industry to design solutions and understand what support may be required. We also need time to explore options for suitable, sustainable alternatives.

How are you considering the impacts on groups in our society that have particular requirements for single-use plastic items like straws?

This is a key factor for consideration, and we strongly encourage all ACT residents and interest groups to take part in the consultation process so that we are able to fully understand the issues.