As part of its work, Western Australia is going to ban certain single-use plastics, including plates, cutlery, stirrers, straws and polystyrene food containers
The state government of Western Australia has announced a plan for a more sustainable future with a new strategy to reduce single-use plastics.
The policy comes backed by the state’s community, with more than 98% of people that took part in a survey last year supporting further action.
The Plan for Plastics (PfP) was unveiled at Perth Zoo, which is on the frontline of conservation efforts in the state by treating 88 sea turtles – many of which required care following the ingestion of plastics – over the past five years.
Western Australia’s environment minister Stephen Dawson said: “Western Australia’s Plan for Plastics is a roadmap towards a more sustainable, plastic-free Western Australia.
“The time to act is now; plastic pollution is one of the greatest threats to wildlife around the world and, in 2018-19, only 11% of Australia’s plastic waste was recycled with 89% sent to landfill.
“Reducing our dependence on single-use plastics will help reduce our impact on the environment, waste streams and human health.
“I am committed to ensuring that the needs of people with disability, those with health conditions and others who rely on certain single-use plastic items are met.
“We will be consulting with the community to understand these needs.
“Waste problems are a shared legacy. I look forward to the implementation of this PfP so we all contribute to the protection of our environment for future generations.”
Western Australia to phase-out certain single-use plastics by 2023
Western Australia’s PfP strategy will be rolled out in two main stages.
Firstly, regulations will be developed and implemented by 2023 for the state-wide phase-out of certain single-use plastics, including plates, cutlery, stirrers, straws, polystyrene food containers and helium balloon releases.
After these initial actions, it will phase-out plastic barrier produce bags, cotton buds with plastic shafts, polystyrene packaging, microbeads and oxo-degradable plastics.
Separate to the PfP, Western Australia’s government is also consulting on an amendment to the Environmental Protection (Plastic Bags) Regulations 2018 to prohibit the use of plastic election bunting signage at polling places.
Western Australia says this announcement puts it on a path to become a plastic-free leader among other states and territories across the nation.
The World Wide Fund for Nature-Australia (WWF) has updated its plastics scorecard for the country, hailing Western Australia as a plastic-free national leader.
PfP builds on the success of the lightweight plastic bag ban and the container deposit scheme, Containers for Change, delivered by the state government to reduce the use, and increase recovery of plastics.
The government does, however, acknowledge that some people require single-use plastic items, such as straws, to maintain their quality of life where alternatives or going without are not appropriate.
Before any phase-out, it will consult and discuss alternative measures closely with all sectors – particularly the disability, aged care and health sectors – to ensure measures are appropriate.
Alongside this, a working group will be established to ensure any regulatory actions to phase-out plastic straws will not negatively impact people requiring straws to meet their life needs, including the continued supply of certain single‑use plastics to those who need them.
Phase-outs will be supported by education and behaviour change programmes, with plastic-free trials that will be established to support community action to reduce single-use plastics.
The Western Australia government will also continue to consult widely and seek feedback from industry and experts on other single-use plastics and packaging, including pre-packaged fruits and vegetables.