Queensland businesses are now banned from selling or supplying some plastic and polystyrene products, as the state vows to tackle plastic pollution.
• Businesses will be unable to sell or supply several items like plastic straws and cutlery
• The government hopes it will reduce pollution by 20 per cent over the next two years
• Disability advocates are asking businesses to be mindful of exemptions
From today, the supply of single-use products including straws, cutlery, plates, bowls, stirrers and polystyrene takeaway containers and cups is banned.
It is the first phase in what the Environment Minister calls the state’s “war on waste”.
“[It’s about] trying to reduce the amount of single-use plastics that end up in our oceans each year,” Meaghan Scanlon said.
The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has called the move a win for turtles, but disability advocates are encouraging businesses to be open-minded about exemptions.
‘People are ready for this’
Under the policy, businesses can be fined up to $6,000 for non-compliance but will be given a month’s grace period to abide by the new rules.
Ms Scanlon said the government was going for an education-first response but believed businesses were on track.
“So many businesses have already transitioned which is really great to see,” she said.
“Overwhelmingly, we know people are ready for this.
“People are doing the right thing, they’re using alternative suppliers because there are much more sustainable items on the market already.”
The policy is the first stage of a wider ban that could see cuts of further products like coffee cups and heavy-duty plastic bags.
“We really encourage people to still, where possible, make the right choice; there are alternatives around coffee cups and other single-use items,” Ms Scanlon said.
“Just because it’s not banned, doesn’t mean that you can’t make a more sustainable option.”
Plastic straws ‘vital part’ of life
Exemptions will be in place for some businesses to support people with disability or healthcare needs.
Perry Cross from the Perry Cross Spinal Research Foundation said the ban was welcomed but that plastic was necessary for some people with disability.
He said some paper straw alternatives could be problematic and not always a suitable fix.
“These days the technology has improved immensely, and now there’s products hitting the market that are much more superior and they can do the job we need them to do,” he said.
“Plastic straws have been on the way out for a while, so we’ve been aware of the problems.
“People need to understand that people need to use these things every day … they’re a crucial part of our everyday society.”
Mr Cross is urging businesses to be “environmentally and socially mindful” and look at the situation from someone else’s point of view.
Safer for marine animals
The government hopes the ban will reduce the state’s plastic pollution by about 20 per cent over the next two years.
Sea life, including turtles and sea birds, are at the centre of an international study as plastic ingestion becomes a concern for scientists.
AMCS plastics campaign manager Shane Cucow said the crackdown would make oceans “a little bit safer” for turtles and seabirds.
He said he hoped the next stage of the ban would come into effect soon.
“With states like Western Australia banning plastic cups, thick plastic shopping bags, takeaway coffee cups and helium balloon releases, the race to end wasteful plastic is heating up,” he said.
mobile.abc.net.au, 1 September 2021