By the end of next year, single-use plastics like lightweight plastic shopping bags, single-use plastic straws, stirrers, and cutlery, as well as expanded polystyrene foodware and plastic cotton bud sticks, will be phased out.
David Stout, Director of Policy, said that retailers support the proposed bans as they will contribute to national consistency, but also set realistic timeframes for industry to develop solutions.
“Retailers have been leading the way in sustainability, phasing out billions of lightweight plastic shopping bags, committing to national packaging and food waste targets, collaborating on container deposit schemes, developing product stewardship schemes, implementing world-class energy reduction and investing in cutting-edge innovations which reduce waste,” said Mr Stout.
Mr Stout said that retailers are particularly pleased to see that the NSW Government is tackling waste issues, not just through single-use plastics bans, but by addressing recycling and organics infrastructure, such as rolling out FOGO bins across the state.
“Retailers, large and small, are actively addressing sustainability across their businesses, but it’s been very difficult to design for optimal recovery when waste collection varies by suburb.
“Customers still expect convenient and cost-effective options, and retailers alone can’t force that change overnight, so we are pleased to see that the government’s plan recognises that we all have a part to play in achieving positive, long-term environmental outcomes.”
Mr Stout said that industry engagement and consumer education will be critical to the success of the ambitious strategy.
“We believe the proposed timelines are realistic but we urge government to consult with industry to ensure legislation is practical and nationally-consistent, and to commence business and consumer education as soon as possible,” Mr Stout said.
“Retailers, especially food businesses, have been doing it tough with many forced to close during the height of the pandemic, and they will need time and support to comply.”
“It’s not as simple as switching it out one day – retailers often order a years’ worth of stock in advance, and they will need time and support to exhaust those supplies, research sustainable alternatives, negotiate new supply chains, train their teams, and educate their customers.”
“Retailers are eager to comply and we will continue to work with government to seek clarity and provide support for businesses.”
Mr Stout said the National Retail Association has an excellent track record when it comes to working with industry, government and consumers to achieve environmental outcomes, having engaged over 40,000 retailers for the QLD, WA and VIC bag bans and actively being engaged to help retailers across SA, ACT and QLD with single-use plastics bans.
For more information on the Waste Strategy, visit www.dpie.nsw.gov.au/wsms
For more information on the Plastics Action Plan www.dpie.nsw.gov.au/pap
Find out more about the NSW plastics bans and waste strategy, or other sustainability initiatives supported by the National Retail Association, contact [email protected].