Western Australia’s timeline for banning single-use plastic must be quickened and other jurisdictions should adopt similar critical laws to protect marine life, conservationists warn.
The Plan for Plastics will be rolled out in two stages, with regulations to be implemented by 2023 for the phase-out of plastic plates, cutlery, stirrers, straws, thick plastic bags, polystyrene food containers and helium balloon releases.
Plastic produce bags, cotton buds with plastic shafts, polystyrene packaging, microbeads, and oxo-degradable plastics will then be phased out.
The state government is also consulting on banning plastic election bunting signage at polling places.
It follows WA’s lightweight plastic bag ban and the Containers for Change scheme.
Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said phasing out plastic straws would not negatively impact people who required them for their life needs.
“WA’s Plan for Plastics is a road map towards a more sustainable, plastic-free WA,” he said in a statement.
“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 per cent of Australia’s plastic waste was recycled, with 89 per cent sent to landfill.
“Reducing our dependence on single-use plastics will help reduce our impact on the environment, waste streams and human health.”
Australian Marine Conservation Society spokesman Shane Cucow said WA’s full list of banned items was the most ambitious in the country, and he urged other jurisdictions to match the state.
“WA is about to take first place in the fight against plastic with the McGowan government’s plan to ban killer plastics,” he said.
“WA’s dolphins, whales and seabirds are soon to have safer seas.
“In particular, we know that soft plastics like shopping bags and produce bags are some of the most lethal to ocean wildlife, entangling and drowning small creatures or causing life-threatening blockages when eaten.”
But Mr Cucow also said WA’s timeline needed to speed up to reflect the urgency of the crisis.
“Every day we wait thousands of ocean animals die, killed by the plastic trash filling up our oceans globally,” he said.
“With plastic waste increasing rapidly, it has never been more urgent to act.
“We urge the WA government to start banning stage one plastics by the end of 2021.”
South Australia recently passed laws to ban single-use plastics that will begin next year.
Queensland and the ACT have draft legislation being considered in their respective parliaments.
Originally published as How WA’s plastic ban affects you