With the first phase of the Western Australian plastics ban commencing Friday, the National Retail Association is urging shoppers to prepare, and to support businesses undergoing significant change over the next few months.
The Stage 1 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.
Chief Executive Dominique Lamb said that thousands of WA businesses are already removing products and introducing alternatives, but that patience and ongoing support would be needed over the next few months.
Ms Lamb noted that the regulations include items made from compostable or ‘plant-based’ plastics, as well as paper products which have a plastic coating or lining, such as coloured or printed paper plates and bowls commonly used for celebrations.
“Western Australia is the first in the world to ban some of these items, so it may take a little time to source and trial alternatives,” said Ms Lamb.
“Shoppers need to be aware that when grabbing groceries, a takeaway meal or drink, party supplies, or the latest fashion, that businesses are doing their best to comply and some items will no longer be offered.”
Ms Lamb welcomed the State Government’s commitment to an “education first” approach to enforcing the new rules, as well as allowing exemptions in special circumstances.
“We appreciate that the McGowan Government has recognised that retail and hospitality businesses are dealing with the economic impact of recovering from COVID and disrupted supply chains, and that they will need time and support to transition,” Ms Lamb said.
Working with the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation, the National Retail Association has spent the first half of this year engaging with over 10,000 retailers to help businesses and their customers understand and prepare for the Government ban.
“Over the past three four months, our team have visited over 300 shopping precincts and spoken to more than 4000 retailers in their stores to supply information materials, provide advice and answer questions about the regulations,” Ms Lamb said.
“We have also held 20 online information sessions, personally contacted over 200 suppliers, and responded to more than 400 queries via a toll-free hotline and email.”
Businesses seeking further advice are encouraged to attend the NRA’s online sessions offered at 10am every day this week, or visit www.plasticsbanwa.com.au for a range of business resources and contact channels.
A second round of changes banning disposable cups for cold drinks will come into force in October. Similarly, this ban will include cups made from bioplastics and paper cups lined with plastic, and will be the first of its kind, Ms Lamb noted.
Other plastic items, such as coffee cups, cup lids, lidded containers, and produce bags, are not banned at this stage but are being considered for future action.
WA ban information, resources and online sessions: www.plasticsbanwa.com.au
Images: Real retailers making positive change: https://www.instagram.com/realretail_au/
NRA’s summary of all bans: https://www.nra.net.au/policy-advocacy/action-on-single-use-plastics/
Government information on applying for an exemption: https://www.wa.gov.au/service/environment/business-and-community-assistance/applications-single-use-plastic-exemption