Local litter legend, marine conservation group welcome ban on single use plastics

THE LAST STRAW: Single use plastic straws could be a think of the past by July next year. Photo: AAP
THE LAST STRAW: Single use plastic straws could be a think of the past by July next year. Photo: AAP

ENVIRONMENTAL groups have welcomed new legislation to get rid of single-use plastics including straws and cutlery, with ban potentially introduced by this time next year.

As well as banning the supply and sale of single-use plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery and plates, the Bill will also provide a means for more single-use plastic like coffee cups, polystyrene cups, take-away food containers and heavy weight plastic bags to be banned in the future.

Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch the Bill allowed for flexibility while businesses recovered from the impacts of coronavirus, with the start date for the ban to be no earlier than July 2021.

Items such as single-use plastic straws that are part of juice box packaging will not be part of the ban at this time, enabling the government to work with packaging and product manufacturers to develop more sustainable options.

Litter Legends founder Layne Utz said the items included in the ban were not his most common roadside rubbish finds but the legislation was a positive first step.

"These items that are being banned aren't the biggest problems compared to some other items like single-use plastic cups, 'reusable' plastic bags, single-use polystyrene packaging and single-use plastic lids, but (it is) excellent to hear (that the government) will be considering other items like these to be banned in the future," he said.

"I do think it's a fantastic first step and any less plastic being produced is a massive win for the environment."

But he expected the amount of litter along the roadsides would not significantly decrease after the ban's start date.

"Litterers are litterers. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if the alternatives for these single-use plastic items end up increasing littering incidents along roadsides, as people might think 'it's only a bit of wood or bamboo or paper, it won't hurt if I throw this on the ground," he said.

"It's still littering and makes the area look disgusting.

"But at least if these items make their way to the nearest waterway it won't be as harmful as plastic."

The Australian Marine Conservation Society also welcomed the new laws, which made Queensland the second state to table laws to ban these wildlife killing products.

Shane Cucow, AMCS's plastics spokesperson, said it was important the laws were quickly expanded to ban other lethal single use plastics including plastic cups, fruit and veggie bags, balloons, plastic takeaway containers and heavyweight plastic bags.

Plastic straws and cutlery were major offenders in the oceans.

"They get stuck in airways and cause painful internal injuries and poisoning when eaten," he said.

A study of the effects of plastic on reef-building corals found the likelihood of disease increased from 4 per cent to 89 per cent when corals are in contact with plastic.

The Bill provides exemptions for single use plastics required in the disability, aged care and health communities.