Helen Oakey, Executive Director
The Conservation Council ACT Region welcomes legislation being introduced to the ACT Legislative Assembly this week to phase out single-use plastics.
“The Conservation Council welcomes the introduction of the Plastic Reduction Bill this week that would see the sale and supply of a variety of single-use plastic products banned in the ACT,” said Helen Oakey, Executive Director.
“In a positive first move, the Bill seeks to ban the sale and use of expanded polystyrene food and drink containers, plastic drink stirrers and plastic cutlery. These are all items that can be substituted with better, more sustainable products.
“While plastic is a uniquely malleable, cheap, adaptive and variable product that we rely on every day we must, as a society, address problematic and unnecessary use of plastic.
“Plastics contribute to pollution in our oceans, waterways and landscapes, and pose threats to wildlife, especially through residual micro-plastic particles which are readily absorbed by plants and animals and disseminated through the food chain.
“Plastic pollution in the ACT can have detrimental downstream impacts on other ecosystems and ultimately contributes to the global plastic pollution problem.
“It’s not just what happens to the plastic when it is thrown out that should concern us – the manufacture of plastic uses significant amounts of energy; energy which is usually coming from the burning of fossil fuels and contributing to climate change. It has been predicted that that if demand for plastic continues to grow at its current rate of 4% a year, emissions from plastic production will reach 15% of global emissions by 2050.
“This Bill is a welcome acknowledgement that the ACT has a role to play in the global plastic problem, like other communities and jurisdictions around Australia that are taking action, including South Australia and Queensland.
“Specifically we welcome the July 1, 2021 implementation date set out for the first tranche of products – single-use plastic cutlery, stirrers and polystyrene food and beverage containers, which should allow businesses time to restock with more sustainable products.
“There is more work to do – the second tranche of items considered under this legislation will include fruit and vegetable barrier bags and straws. We would also encourage the Government to consider takeaway food containers and heavy plastic shopping bags.
“In addition, consideration should be given to reporting requirements for larger retailers, such as supermarkets, so we can be sure that light weight plastic bags are not simply being replaced with heavier bags.
“We need to rethink how we use plastic in our daily lives and implement different ways to cut plastic use, such as reusable food and drink containers schemes, refillable bottles and bubblers, and reusable bags made from products that don’t cost the earth.
“The ACT has the opportunity to be a national and international leader in tackling plastic pollution by laying out an ambitious agenda over the longer-term to tackle the systematic and cultural issues of cutting our use of plastic,” said Ms Oakey.
Media comment: Madeleine Gisz, Communications Manager, mobile 0426 672 160