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Australia NSW to ban plastic cutlery as end also looms for single-use cups, plates and bags

23:27  12 june  2021
23:27  12 june  2021 Source:   smh.com.au

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Plastic straws and cutlery, lightweight plastic bags and microbeads in cosmetics are among the items that will be banished from NSW from next year under laws to curb the amount of rubbish going into oceans and landfill.

The writing is also on the wall for plastic cups, plates and the heavyweight plastic shopping bags common at Coles and Woolworths, with Environment Minister Matt Kean saying the government plans to phase out all single-use plastics by 2025 to stop 2.7 billion items from becoming litter.

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"This is about NSW leading the way when it comes to reducing plastic litter in our environment ... ensuring we hand our environment to the next generation better than we found it," Mr Kean said.

Lightweight plastic bags will be the first to go, phased out within six months of the laws passing State Parliament, which the government expects to happen by the end of this year. The plan went through cabinet last week.

Plastic straws, cutlery and stirrers will be phased out within 12 months, as will microbeads in hygiene and cosmetic products, styrofoam tableware and cotton buds with plastic stems.

In three years there will be a review of several other very common items: the heavyweight plastic bags currently available at supermarkets, single-use plastic plates and cups, as well as fruit stickers.

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But Mr Kean made it clear his intention is to ban all single-use plastics by 2025.

The government wants total waste generated per person reduced 10 per cent and overall litter reduced 60 per cent by 2030.

"We must reduce the plastics ending up in our environment because we are on track to see more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050," Mr Kean said.

NSW says exemptions will be in place to ensure people with a disability who rely on plastic straws will continue to have access to them.

The government foreshadowed its intentions in March last year, beginning public consultation on how to deal with plastic waste. It said 98 per cent of respondents supported phasing out single-use plastics.

A list of problematic plastics was agreed as part of a national waste action plan by federal and state governments in April.

Shane Cucow, plastics campaign manager at the Australian Marine Conservation Society, said NSW had the largest plastic footprint of any Australian jurisdiction and the government's proposals would have a "massive" effect on the flow of dangerous plastics into the ocean.

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"We would congratulate the NSW government for listening to ocean lovers across the state who have been demanding action to save threatened seabirds, whales and turtles," he said. "Soft plastic bags and plastic straws are some of the most notorious killers of wildlife."

Mr Cucow also said the inclusion of plastic cotton buds and microbeads raised the bar for other states and territories.

A Coles spokesman said the company was committed to reducing the use of unnecessary plastic, having already removed microbeads from its products in 2015 and phased out lightweight bags in 2018. From July, Coles will no longer sell single-use plastic tableware, diverting an estimated 1.5 million kilograms of single-use plastic from landfill each year.

The NSW government also has plastic packaging of consumer goods in its sights. The Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation has committed to using an average of 20 per cent recycled content in plastic packaging by 2025. NSW says it will review progress in three years and will consider mandating targets or design standards "if the industry has not taken sufficient action".

NSW moves to cut single-use plastics by 2025

  NSW moves to cut single-use plastics by 2025 NSW is set to unveil ambitious plans to drastically cut the amount of plastic and food scraps that end up in landfill by 2025.Straws, stirrers, cotton buds and polystyrene cups will be phased out 12 months after legislation is passed, with a review on plastic cups, heavy bags and fruit stickers to be carried out within three years.

The government will also establish a $37 million carbon recycling and abatement fund to encourage a circular economy that reduces waste and greenhouse gas emissions. And it aims to triple recycling of plastics and recover 80 per cent of resources from waste by 2030.

"Under our plans, we will not only deliver on our commitment to achieve zero emissions from organics in landfill by 2030, but grow our economy by extracting more resources like biogas from our waste," Mr Kean said.

Projects supported by the fund will include those using low-carbon recycled materials and reducing waste generated from construction and demolition activities.

A waste strategy will also seek to modernise rubbish collection and recycling processes so that landfills adapt and are not overwhelmed in the decades ahead.

"We can't keep sending our scraps to languish in landfill when there are huge opportunities to turn our trash into treasure," Mr Kean said.

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