Eliminate single-use plastic or risk penalty, says minister

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AT a time when hospitality businesses have been hit the hardest, the ACT government has introduced new legislation which will allow them to penalise businesses for using single use plastic from mid-next year. 

Takeaway food and beverage containers will be among the first items to be banned when the legislation comes into effect on July 1, with City Services Minister Chris Steel urging businesses to immediately start to actively phase-out single-use plastic products that will be “prohibited”.

Under the legislation, it’ll be an offence to supply a prohibited plastic product, which will include plastic cutlery and drink stirrers, with penalties of up to 50 penalty units and infringement notices available.

It will not be an offence to supply a prohibited plastic product in a non-business setting, for example, from a parent to a child at a picnic, Mr Steel says.

According to Mr Steel, the government understands the need to allow business some time to prepare for the changes in “the current economic environment”, which is why the legislation will not come into commence until mid-next year.

It’ll be the first of more bans, and Mr Steel says: “In 2022 we will expand the phase out to items such as straws, barrier bags for fruit and ­­vegetables, as well as all products made from oxo-degradable plastic.

“Items such as plastic-lined single-use coffee cups and lids, single-use plastic dinnerware, boutique or heavyweight plastic bags, and cotton ear buds with plastic sticks are currently under consideration by the ACT government for future phase outs from 2023 onwards.

“However, we will provide exemptions so that people with a disability who need to use straws will still be able to access and use them.”

This bill sends a strong signal to the community that we need to move away from single-use plastic and to build a circular economy, the minister says. 

“Single-use plastics play no role in strengthening our circular economy and ultimately create an unfair competitive advantage for businesses who choose to cut costs by purchasing unsustainable plastic materials,” he says. 

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