The Queensland Government has submitted the Waste Reduction and Recycling (Plastic Items) Amendment Bill 2020 to Parliament and, if passed, will likely come into effect sometime in 2021.

Queensland and interstate retailers, especially those that sell food and beverages, should familiarise themselves with the proposed changes or contact the National Retail Association Policy team for more information.

Public opinion

Last week, the Department of Environment and Science released their consultation summary outlining what Queenslanders think about plastic pollution and proposed bans on selected single-use plastic items like straws and plates.

A record number of responses were received with 20,000 Queenslanders having their say on banning single-use plastic products. Key findings include:

  • 94% supported a ban on single-use plastic straws, plates, cutlery and stirrers.
  • 90% agreed that a start date of 1 July 2021 was sufficient time to prepare for the ban.
  • 80% agreed that more voluntary action to reduce single-use plastics would help reduce plastic pollution, supported by education and awareness campaigns.
  • 94% are already taking action to reduce single-use plastics, such as refusing plastic straws and stirrers when buying drinks.
  • 97% are already taking action to reduce plastic waste, such as choosing products with less packaging and recycling soft plastics in REDcycle bins.

See the full consultation summary here >

 

The Bill

Yesterday, the Waste Reduction and Recycling (Plastic Items) Amendment Bill 2020 was introduced to parliament on 15 July by Hon Leeanne Enoch, Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for the Arts.

Key elements of the proposed legislation include:

  • Single-use plastic item = “a plastic item, other than a plastic item that is compostable, designed to be used only once”.
  • Items banned: single-use plastic plates, bowls, cutlery, straws and stirrers
  • Exempt items:
      • single-use plastic items above that are an integral part of a shelf-ready food or beverage product, eg. straw attached to a juice box, plate or bowl in a pre-packaged frozen meal
      • certified compostable plastic items (under Australian Standards AS4736 – commercial compostability or AS5810 – home compostability). Note: labelling and certification requirements apply.
  • Exempt businesses:
      • Healthcare providers / businesses (eg. doctors, pharmacies)
      • Schools
      • These types of organisations will be able to provide or sell banned items for those with a disability or healthcare needs.
  • Timing:
      • An exact date has not been set with the legislation due to come into effect “upon proclamation”. We believe it will come into effect between July and September 2021.
  • The legislation describes details on how other single-use plastic items may be added to the ban in future.

See the full details of the Bill and parliamentary speech here >

 

What’s next

The Queensland Government will work with stakeholders and groups to develop a plan for implementing the proposed ban on single-use plastic straws, plates, cutlery and stirrers, after 1 July 2021.

The National Retail Association is an active member of the Stakeholder Taskforce. We take our obligation seriously to represent the needs, challenges and perspectives of Australian retailers, to ensure commercial impacts are considered and minimised, and to encourage national consistency across jurisdictions, as other states are also in the process of implementing single-use plastic legislation.

An education campaign will also be launched to let Queenslanders, industry and businesses know what’s happening and what they may need to do to prepare.

Down the track, other single-use plastic products will be considered for banning, including:

  • coffee and other plastic cups
  • heavyweight ‘boutique style’ plastic shopping bags
  • some polystyrene packaging and takeaway food and drink containers
  • plastic balloon sticks.

 


The National Retail Association is extensively involved in sustainability initiatives, including lightweight plastic bags and other single-use plastics bans across all jurisdictions. We represent retailer perspectives and ultimately encourage national consistency to prevent negative impacts and confusion. 

Retailers seeking more information, clarification or personalised advice on how to successfully manage sustainability initiatives should contact the NRA Policy team at policy@nra.net.au.