Retailers should be aware of updates to the South Australian single use plastic ban due to come into effect from 1 March 2021. The legislation prohibits or restricts single use plastic straws, cutlery and stirrers being sold, supplied or distributed in South Australia.
Compostable (bioplastic) products
The legislation includes both fossil-fuel derived plastic and compostable (bioplastic) plastic products (such as Polylactic Acid – PLA) but only for the prohibited plastic products listed in the legislation. While compostable plastic products can break down in industrial composting facilities, they can also cause pollution and harm to marine life in the same way as conventional, fossil-fuel plastic products if they enter the environment.
IMPORTANT: Products lined with compostable plastic, including PLA, are also considered a prohibited plastic product under the legislation.
From 1 March, single use plastic drinking straws will continue to be available for members of the community who rely on these for disability or health needs. The legislation has a specific provision which provides an exemption for plastic straws through regulations, which are still being finalised.
The exemption will allow single-use plastic drinking straws to be sold, supplied and distributed through the following:
- Any business can choose to supply individual single-use plastic drinking straws on request, due to disability or medical needs,; and
- ‘Prescribed businesses’ (pharmacies, Local Government Offices, charities, medical, dental, and care facilities) can choose to sell and supply single-use plastic drinking straws (i.e. in packs); and
- Wholesalers and distributors can supply and distribute single-use plastic straws for the above purposes.
Retailers can retain a small amount of plastic straws for customers who require these items due to medical or disability needs. Please note that these can only be provided on request, though no proof of need is required. Retailers should keep this straw supply behind the counter.
Retailers can donate excess stock to their local school and/or charity provided that these sites are willing to accept these products before 1 March 2021.
From 1 March 2021, it will be an offence for all businesses, including charities, to supply cutlery intended to be used to consume food, unless a single-use plastic straw is required for customers due to a medical or disability need. However, retailers will be permitted to donate excess straws or cutlery for arts and crafts purposes only.
The National Retail Association Policy Team continue to be active members of the SA Government’s Single-Use Plastics Taskforce, as well as taskforces in other jurisdictions.
For more information and resources visit the South Australian Government Replace the Waste website or contact the NRA Replace the Waste hotline on 1800 844 946.
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.