NSW to phase out single-use plastic

The NSW government has committed to phasing out single-use plastics state-wide, with the ban coming into effect next year.

Under the Plastics and Circular Economy Act 2021, lightweight plastic bags will be phased out from July 2022. This will be followed by plastic straws, plastic cutlery, plastic dinnerware and polystyrene takeaway food containers from November 2022.

The move has been commended by the retail industry.

Australian Retailers Association (ARA) CEO Paul Zahra says the approach is an ambitious but pragmatic response to the challenge of single-use plastics.

He adds that the legislation passed also supports national harmonisation on the phase-out of some single-use plastics, which is critically important for ARA members operating in multiple jurisdictions.

“The NSW government has a comprehensive and integrated plan for the phase out of single-use plastics which reflects changing community expectations and builds on the solid foundations that have been established in recent years,” says Mr Zahra.

“In recognition of community concern and environmental impacts, the ARA has been working with governments across the country on the phase-out of single-use plastics, as we transition to the circular economy of the future.

“We are currently supporting the continued phase out of single-use plastics in ACT, SA and WA; we are involved in the design of the incoming container deposit scheme in Victoria; and we are part of a cross-sectorial consortium that has received federal funding to divert post-consumer clothing and textile waste from landfill.”

National Retail Association (NRA) Director of Policy David Stout says that the industry supports the ban and, in particular, the highly consultative and staged approach taken by the NSW government.

“We commend the fact that the NSW government has staggered the ban considering the crisis retailers have weathered throughout the pandemic, as well as ensuring that the items being banned have safe and viable alternatives,” he says.

“It’s not as simple as switching these items out one day – businesses often order a years’ worth of stock in advance, and they now need time to exhaust those supplies, test alternatives for safety, negotiate new supply chains, train their teams, and educate their customers.”

Addressing education

The NRA has partnered with the NSW government to deliver an education and engagement program to help impacted retailers, suppliers, community groups and not-for-profit organisations to prepare and transition.

“We are already working with the government to develop factsheets and posters, as well as preparing for extensive engagement across the state,” says Mr Stout.

“We will be visiting over 650 retail shopping centres, malls and strips in metropolitan and regional areas next year, visiting thousands of retailers in their stores to provide resources and information.

“We have also launched a tollfree hotline (1800 844 946) so organisations can get advice suited to their unique situation.

“In addition, we will be holding online and physical sessions for community organisations, as they too will not be allowed to supply banned items, for example at fundraising events or charity services, so it will be important that all organisations know their obligations.”

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