Project status: In progress

The ACT Government is progressing the Plastic Reduction Bill with an exposure draft of the legislation being tabled in the ACT Legislative Assembly which will phase out select problematic single-use plastics.

An updated Next Steps Policy Document on phasing out single‑use plastics has been released, outlining how the ACT Government will achieve the phase out.

So as not to impose extra regulations on industry during the COVID-19 pandemic, the first tranche of products to be phased out, originally planned for early 2020, will now occur no earlier than July 2021, with the legislation to be introduced towards the end of 2020. The exact date of introduction will depend on the pandemic situation, in order to avoid undue pressure on local business.

In 2021, the ACT Government expects to phase out three key plastic items including:

  • single-use plastic cutlery
  • single-use plastic stirrers
  • single-use expanded polystyrene takeaway food and beverage containers.

In the community consultation held last year, these items had the greatest levels of community support. While the Bill is focused on reduction and not substitution, these items also have readily available and well understood alternatives for circumstances where they cannot be avoided.

The exposure draft of the Plastic Reduction Bill 2020 is now available to be viewed.

The Updated Next Steps Policy Document on phasing out single-use plastics also notes the ACT Government’s intention to phase out straws, single-use plastic fruit and vegetable ‘barrier bags’ and oxo-degradable plastic products, 12 months after the initial regulatory ban. Oxo-degradable plastic products are conventional plastics which include additives to accelerate the fragmentation of the material into very small pieces, triggered by UV radiation or heat exposure, and eventually end up as microplastics.

The ACT Government has consulted extensively on our phase out of single-use plastics and will continue to work closely with the community, local businesses and organisations during the implementation of the phase out, and will consider exemptions that may need to be in place should single-use plastic alternatives be unsuitable for some community members, such as people with a disability.

Thank you for having YourSay:

Thank you for everyone who provided their feedback on phasing out single-use plastics, how we can best reduce our plastic waste and improve environmental outcomes.

At the end of the consultation period on 31 July 2019, we had registered more than 3,300 interactions, including survey responses, submissions, YourSay comments and attendance at several community and business information sessions. You can read the engagement report or many of the submissions which are available in the Document Library.

Your feedback informed the development of the Plastic Reduction Bill 2020 which the ACT Government intends to introduce later in 2020.

We are looking at:

Plastic presents an ever-growing challenge to our society and our planet. It has wide-ranging uses and benefits across every facet of our daily life, from preserving and packaging food and keeping medical equipment sterile, through to manufacturing cars and planes, computers, phones and televisions, to name a few.

However, rising plastic consumption is an ever-increasing threat to our environment. It is estimated that by 2050 there will be more plastic (by weight) in our oceans than fish, which may take hundreds or even thousands of years to break down.

The ACT has already taken steps to address the impact of single-use plastic through the plastic bag ban introduced in 2011 and are now looking to phase out selected problematic single-use plastic products including plastic cutlery, stirrers and expanded polystyrene takeaway food and beverage containers.

In 2022 the ACT Government will seek to expand the phase out to items such as straws, plastic fruit and vegetable barrier bags and oxo-degradable plastic products. For straws, we will continue to work with affected stakeholders such as our disability community, carers and health providers to design this phase out and ensure these items remain available to those who need them.

Under the Bill, the ACT will also be the first jurisdiction to legislate the ability to phase out other single-use plastic items at public events, both government and non‑government. Examples of plastic free events could include Floriade and the National Multicultural Festival, or major sporting matches and festivals.

Importantly, an event must be declared to be single-use plastic free, with appropriate restrictions in the Bill around how this can be done. This is particularly important as we continue to navigate the impacts of COVID-19, including on events in the future.

Fast facts