Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Councils prepare for plastic ban

With a ban on single-use plastics due to come into effect across Victoria from 1 February, the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) and Sustainability Victoria have been working with councils to support them to deliver the policy changes at a local level.

Come 1 February, single-use plastic drinking straws, cutlery, plates, drink stirrers and cotton bud sticks made from conventional, degradable, and compostable plastics will be banned from sale and supply in Victoria. The ban also applies to food service items and drink containers made from expanded polystyrene.

Single-use plastics:
• make up a third of the litter we see in our environment – they are difficult and costly to
clean up;
• are a poor use of resources – they are often used for only a few minutes and generate
significant waste that is not recyclable;
• pollute the environment – harming wildlife and contaminating our food and water, this is of particular concern given the toxicity of plastic items and their ability to bioaccumulate
• can often be easily avoided or replaced with reusable products.

The ban will apply to businesses and organisations including not-for-profits, government, sports clubs, schools, and others that are incorporated.

It is the responsibility of all Victorian businesses and organisations, including councils, to comply with the Regulations and not sell or supply certain single-use plastic items, including to patrons or customers.

Sustainability Victoria is supporting DEECA in the delivery of the single-use plastic ban and recently hosted more than 70 councils from across the state in a webinar, with guests from the City of Adelaide and ACT Government discussing their single-use plastic ban implementation and sharing key learnings.

During the webinar, Sustainability Victoria outlined findings from its engagement program which has reached 3,265 businesses across 31 LGAs. Through direct engagement with the hospitality sector, it found that while 40% of businesses had not heard about the ban, 70% were already taking action to prepare for the ban.

“Pleasingly we found about 40% of businesses surveyed have no barriers to accepting reusable items. This supports our focus on the uptake of reusables and waste avoidance where possible,” said Interim CEO Sustainability Victoria, Matt Genever.

“We’re encouraging food serving businesses to look at where they sit in the circular economy and how they can drive reuse over single use.

“Re-use has been always a big part of our program. We have implemented the Circular Economy Reuse Pilots Fund which is enabling us to trial reuse options and collect data that will inform other businesses on the feasibility of the reuse in different hospitality settings.”

Resource Recovery Advisor at the City of Adelaide Council, Nicole Gschwind shared the journey of the Council’s circular economy team. One of the key findings from its work with the hospitality sector was that cafés understand the marketing value of sustainable practices and understand that their customers want those products.

The ACT introduced a similar single-use plastic ban in 2021. ACT Waste Avoidance Officer, Marianne Ching, found that some businesses still had excess stock of single-use plastics when the ban commenced. She said it was important that businesses prepared for the ban by running down stocks of banned items.

To support councils to communicate with businesses in their community about how the ban will affect them, an information toolkit has been developed and is available here.

Helpful, easy-to-use resources to assist business and organisations to prepare for the ban can be found here.

Tips for councils to prepare for the single-use plastic ban in Victoria from 1 February:
• Use up any stocks of the banned items council is using. Banned items cannot be sold,
supplied or provided from 1 February 2023;
• Have a discussion with suppliers or procurement to find suitable alternatives;
• Proactively support local businesses in their transition to reusables – encourage them to register for a free information session being run by the National Retail Association every Friday at 11:00am (being run until the end of January).
Register for a session here.
• Promote through your economic development teams to local traders’ associations
and business groups;
• Download the information toolkit.

To watch the webinar click here or download the slides here.

Latest Articles