Australians may soon have to find alternatives for eight every day plastic items which have been described as "problematic and unnecessary" at a meeting of the nation's environment ministers.
The national environment ministers met virtually yesterday to discuss an array of priorities regarding the environment, including the implementation of the National Waste Policy Action Plan.
The ministers identified the plastic items they plan to phase out Australia-wide by 2025, or before in some cases.
The hit list was created to provide greater certainty for industry, as the states have been chasing differing bans on plastic items.
The eight 'problematic' items set to be phased out by 2025 are:
Lightweight plastic bags
Plastic products misleadingly termed as ‘degradable’
Expanded polystyrene (EPS) consumer food containers (e.g. cups and clamshells)
EPS consumer goods packaging (loose fill and moulded)
Microbeads in personal health care products
"Environment Ministers agreed to work collaboratively to improve the harmonisation of municipal waste collection, taking the first step within each state through the implementation of standards within each jurisdiction for kerbside recycling, and a national implementation road map that considers costs and benefits," the communique said.
Several states and territories have moved to ban plastic items already, the Australian Government hopes the National Waste Policy Action Plan will align the bans "where practical".
Victoria and Western Australia already plan to phase out and ban a raft of plastic items by 2023.
Queensland and the ACT have also passed laws to ban single-use plastics including straws, stirrers, cutlery and plates and bowls.
As a result of the meeting on Thursday, Tasmania and the Northern Territory now have commitments to see single-use plastics phased out by 2025.
National Plastics Plan timeline released
The Australian Government's Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment's National Plastics Plan has outlined a timeline for phasing out plastics in Australia.
By 2025, the goal is to have 100 per cent of packaging be reusable, recyclable or compostable within relevant industries.
Also by 2025, Australia aims to have 70 per cent of plastic packaging waste go on to be recycled or composted.
The plan also acknowledges Australia has a plastic problem.
A 2020 WWF report, written in associated with Boston Consulting Group (BCG) found Australians use 3.5 million tonnes of plastic every year.
"We estimate that one million tonnes of Australia’s annual plastic consumption is single-use plastics, which are beneficial for only a few hours to a few days, but if not recovered and recycled, last hundreds to thousands of years in the environment," the report said.
The National Plastics Plan acknowledges the issue with plastics will not be resolved through a single intervention and everyone has a part to play — including governments on a federal, state and territory and local level, industry and consumers.
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