The South Australian Government has advised the National Retail Association that on 1 March 2021, the Single Use Plastics (Waste Avoidance) Act 2020 will be implemented after passing Parliament on 9 September 2020.
The National Retail Association consistently lobbied on behalf of industry and retailers to ensure ‘black out periods’ were included to ensure the legislation did not come into effect during peak trading periods between December and January for Christmas and New Year and Easter in April.
This week, Minister for Environment and Water, David Speirs MP, has responded to the National Retail Association in writing, stating that his intention is to bring the legislation into effect only six month after it passed Parliament.
“As the legislation passed Parliament on 9 September 2020, I am writing to inform you that the ban will commence on 1 March 2021.”
However he also notes that government regulators are still working on regulations to implement exemptions, guidance on the assessment of single-use prohibited plastic products and an education campaign.
The National Retail Association continues to submit that it is almost impossible for thousands of businesses to know what is banned, start preparing, ordering alternatives and exhausting banned stock while these essential regulations and guidelines are ‘still being worked on’.
David Stout, Director of NRA Policy said “Retailers are eager to comply with the new law, but how can they act if the law is not fully finalised or clear?”
Essentially the legislation will prohibit the sale, supply or distribution of single-use plastic cutlery, beverage stirrers and drinking straws in South Australia with exemptions available for people with a disability or medical need.
After 12 months, on 1 March 2022, the prohibition will also apply to expanded polystyrene food service items as well as oxo-degradable plastic products.
A single use product means a product designed or intended to be used once or for a limited number of times before being disposed of.
Plastic means a material made from, or comprising, organic polymers, whether plant extracts or of fossil fuel origin.
Oxo-degradable means a material (however described) made of plastic which includes additives to accelerate the fragmentation of the material into smaller pieces, triggered by ultraviolet radiation or heat exposure, whether or not this is, or may be, followed by partial or complete breakdown of the material by microbial action.
Next steps from Government
The NRA has been advised that Green Industries SA and the Environment Protection Authority are working on activities to support commencement of the legislation. These include regulations to implement exemptions, guidance on the assessement of single-use prohibited products and an education campaign.
The NRA Policy Team continue to be active members of the SA Government’s Single-Use Plastics Taskforce, as well as taskforces in other jurisdictions.
The National Retail Association supports the intent of the Bill but we have raised our strong concerns regarding the definition of single-use, exemptions which may increase issues for those with a disability, exclusion of compostable alternatives and timing considerations, especially given the pandemic. See our recent submission.