Australia: Next level ban on single-use plastic

The citizens of Canberra are often willing to give things a go that would be dismissed out of hand in more socially conservative states and territories. The latest initiative, following on from the plastic bag ban now being implemented by major supermarket chains on a national scale, is a crackdown on many more single-use plastics.

This makes sense, given recent reports of marine creatures being found with hundreds of kilograms of plastic waste clogging their stomachs and the news that what appeared to be a plastic shopping bag and some chocolate wrappers were spotted at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.

With Canberrans sending 953 tonnes of plastic to landfill in 2017-18 compared to 973 tonnes in 2010-11, per capita usage is significantly down.

Professor Kate Auty, the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment, has credited the ban with stopping 1,132 tonnes of plastic going into landfill with a reduction of 55 million bags in just one 12-month period alone. That is a fantastic achievement and one that more than justifies the efforts made by Canberra retailers and consumers since 2011.

It is also an excellent basis on which to proceed to the next logical step; to review our dependence on other single-use plastic items such as lightweight plastic fruit and vegetable bags. The government is exploring a wide range of possible options through surveys and other forms of community consultation.


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