There is increasing consumer and government concern regarding “single-use” plastics, such as takeaway containers, straws, cutlery and other plastic items typically used once and then discarded.
The NRA supports initiatives to improve environmental impact, however these changes must be:
- nationally consistent
- fair for all retailers regardless of size
- carefully considered and researched
- commercially viable and realistic
Currently Australian businesses lack access to sustainable alternatives to single-use plastic items that are fit-for-purpose and affordable for all businesses. Current alternatives are up to 100 times more expensive than plastic options, and this could unfairly increase the cost of living for many Australians.
In addition, if different laws exist for different regions then businesses and consumers trying to do the right thing can actually be unfairly disadvantaged as they try to compete with businesses not affected by the increased costs.
Retailers support the reduction of single-use plastic, but there is more work to be done to ensure retailers and consumers are able to implement change in a fair, practical and long-lasting way.
Multiple policies affecting retail
Governments in multiple states and territories are currently either implementing or considering bans on a range of plastic items including:
- beverage containers
- plastic straws
- plastic cutlery
- plastic stirrers
- plastic plates / bowls
- plastic cups
- plastic takeaway containers
- polystyrene containers, plates, bowls and cups
- plastic lined coffee cups
- plastic bags
- degradable / oxodegradable plastics
The National Retail Association is involved across all jurisdictions, representing retailer perspectives and ultimately encouraging national consistency to prevent negative impacts and confusion.
Download our Summary Table on current and proposed legislation affecting plastic.SUMMARY TABLE (June 2020)
Recent submissions to government
Submission: NSW Plastics Policy (May 2020)
The NSW Plastics Plan Discussion Paper - Cleaning Up Our Act outlines the first step in developing a new, comprehensive approach to reducing plastic use and managing plastic waste and pollution in NSW. The NRA supports the intent of the Paper and our submission outlines a roadmap to implementing positive initiatives while maintaining national consistency, commercial viability and realistic timeframes.
Submission: QLD single-use plastics (April 2020)
The Queensland Government is proposing a ban on the supply of specific single-use plastic products, starting with straws, cutlery, plates and stirrers. While retailers support most of these bans, the NRA has made submissions to highlight challenges and considerations...
Single-Use Plastic Legislation (18 March 2020)
Summary table of state and federal legislation on single-use plastics
Submission to SA Government: Single-use and Other Plastic Products (Waste Avoidance) Bill 2019
In response to South Australian Government's Single-use and Other Plastic Products (Waste Avoidance) Bill 2019. The National Retail Association supports the intent of the Bill but has concerns regarding national consistency, definition of terms, exemptions, exclusion of compostable alternatives and other issues...
Submission: Hobart Single-Use Plastics By-Law (Nov 2019)
The NRA support the positive intentions of initiatives to reduce plastic litter, but strongly oppose premature regulatory intervention, such as the proposed by-law, as this: jeopardises national consistency; contradicts and diverts focus from existing projects and plans at a national and state level; fails to recognise the lack of viable, safe alternatives for the broad range of items included; creates confusion with poor definitions and loopholes; creates competitive and customer disadvantages; incurs high and unreasonable costs on business and customers; lacks comprehensive education and support mechanisms for industry; and lacks comprehensive plans to educate the public.
National Retail Association Sustainability Committee
Sustainability is a broad and vastly different proposition for the various channels of retail, however all have a commitment to the community and social responsibility.
The National Retail Association (NRA) Sustainability Committee seeks to minimise impact on the environment, whilst maintaining reputation and meeting the current and future expectations of customers.
The NRA’s Sustainability Committee aims to:
- bring together experts from across the retail industry, government and associated stakeholders to continue the momentum of positive sustainability regulations;
- consider the impact of retail activities upon sustainability, the community and environment;
- consider the effectiveness of sustainability initiatives, such as policy and industry mechanisms;
- contribute expertise to ensure sustainability policy is commercially viable and delivers sustainable outcomes;
- provide a non-competitive forum for key industry and government stakeholders to network and share insight;
- engage in ongoing dialogue between peers and specialists via the NRA’s private Sustainability Committee Linkedin Group.