Fish and chips in a polystyrene container.

A recent survey found that 94% of respondents support a phase-out of polystyrene, and 91% supported a phase-out of plastic cutlery.

30 January 2020

Plastic is a problem, which is why we’re taking action to phase out selected plastic products in the ACT.

Some plastics consumed in the ACT are designed to be thrown away after a single use. Many single-use plastic products are difficult to recycle and as a result end up in landfill or the natural environment.

The ACT has already taken steps to address the impact of single-use plastic through the plastic bag ban introduced in 2011. We are now looking to phase out selected problematic single-use plastic that have readily available alternatives.

Recently, through the ‘Phasing out single-use plastics discussion paper’, we consulted broadly with industry, business and the community about ways to avoid and reduce the consumption of single-use plastics. There were over 3,300 responses to the consultation, demonstrating a high degree of community interest in the issue.

The community survey revealed that:

a) 94% support a phase out of polystyrene

b) 93% support a phase out of plastic stirrers and straws

c) 92% support a phase out of plastic lined coffee cups or lids

d) 91% support a phase out of plastic cutlery

e) 91% support a phase out of plastic plates and cups

f) 87% support a phase out of takeaway food containers

g) 85% support a phase out of lightweight fruit and vegetable barrier bags.

An additional survey of the general community was undertaken by the ACT Government which found definite or probable support for:

a) banning single-use plastic straws (77%)

b) banning plastic-lined takeaway coffee cups (71%)

c) banning single-use plastic takeaway containers (68%)

d) banning thicker plastic bags (58%).

In 2020, the ACT Government will introduce legislation to phase out the sale and distribution of selected single-use plastic products.

Immediate phase out

  • Single-use plastic cutlery.
  • Single-use plastic stirrers.
  • Single-use expanded polystyrene foam takeaway food and beverage containers (e.g. cups and clamshells).

Phase out after 12 months

  • Single-use plastic fruit and vegetable ‘barrier bags’.
  • Oxo-degradable plastic products (certain plastic products which include additives to accelerate fragmentation into microplastics).
  • Single-use plastic straws – except for people who need them because of a disability or for medical reasons.

The following items will be considered in the longer term:

  • Plastic-lined single-use coffee cups and lids
  • Single-use plastic dinnerware
  • Other single-use plastic products including boutique/heavyweight plastic bags
  • Cotton ear buds (with plastic sticks)

Find out more in the new report ‘ Phasing out single-use plastics: Next Steps Policy’, available here:

All Canberra

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