West Australian retailers are readying their businesses and their customers for major changes to the use of plastic items for shopping and takeaway food, with major changes coming in just under two weeks.
From 1 July, a ban will apply to all plastic shopping bags with handles of any thickness, including paper bags with plastic laminate. The ban also applies to disposable plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, plates, unlidded bowls and unlidded food containers, including those with plastic coating.
A second round of changes impacting drinking cups will come into force in October.
Working with the Department of Water and Environmental Regulations, the National Retail Association has spent the first half of this year engaging with retailers to help businesses understand and comply with the upcoming changes.
Chief Executive Officer Dominique Lamb said the association had engaged more than 10,000 businesses across the state, either through in-store visits, online information sessions or emails or phone calls.
“The new laws involve significant change for many businesses, and the Government recognised they needed specialised, intensive engagement to manage impacts on their business,” Ms Lamb said.
“We find small and medium businesses appreciate the personalised support and resources, as they are busy running their business, serving customers and supporting their staff especially after the tough few years retail has faced.”
Those businesses that had not yet prepared themselves for the new rules could visit www.plasticsbanwa.com.au or call the free hotline on 1800 817 723 for additional information, Ms Lamb said.
She also urged shoppers to be prepared for the changes they will face from July 1.
“Shoppers need to be aware that when grabbing groceries, a takeaway meal, party supplies, or the latest fashion, that some items will no longer be available,” Ms Lamb said.
“We ask customers to be patient while businesses transition and to consider how you can help support these positive changes.”
Ms Lamb welcomed the State Government’s commitment to an “education first” approach to enforcing the new rules, as well as allowing businesses to apply for exemptions in special circumstances.
“This is the first time some of these items are being banned in Australia, and businesses need time and support to trial alternatives,” she said.
“The government has confirmed that they will pursue an education-first approach to compliance and enforcement action and we welcome that. In our experience, most business owners want to do the right thing.”
The WA Government has proposed further bans to be implemented next year and Ms Lamb encouraged businesses to provide input via Government’s consultation sessions in coming months.