The Hobart City Council has voted to implement a single-use plastic ban over the next five years, with aims to phase out single-use plastic by 2020, and to change to more environmentally-friendly, sustainable alternatives. The ban includes straws, plastic bags, cutlery, and single-use bottles with detachable lids.
According to the ABC, Robert Mallett, the CEO of the Tasmanian Small Business Council commented on the ban, stating that although he was not against the ban, the cost of businesses changing may put some businesses at a disadvantage in terms of the costs associated with changing. However, in 2018 the Hobart Aquatic Centre found that less than 1% of costs associated with changing to environmentally-friendly options were part of the annual turnover.
As commented on in the Hobart City, Hobart has taken steps already to reduce the amount of litter, mainly through litter-traps and and socks. However, despite this 50% of the pre-existing litter stream is filled with paper and plastic take-away rubbish (data from: Environmental Protection Authority Tasmania). Additionally, the ‘Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index 2016/2017’ found that Tasmania’s litter count had increased by 6% from the previous year.
The by-law in Hobart, however, will only apply to businesses that provide packaging that can be taken away from the premises by consumers (such as takeaway containers or plastic single-use cutlery). In addition, the by-law will exclude packaging which the consumer provides. It will also exclude packages larger than 1-litre in volume, or the area of 210mm by 297mm.
In order to support the changes that the businesses will be undergoing, toolkits and hard copy information packs will be provided, as well as information sessions and one-on-one advice will be available to all Hobart food businesses.
Hobart is not the only city making strides to reduce plastic, and banning single-use plastic products. According to SBS, the European Union (EU) are planning to ban single-use plastic items as well. Although it is a proposal, and not official, the EU are expected to implement this proposal within two years. Plastic pollution is set to double by 2030, according to The ABC.
As well as the EU, in August, the New Zealand government announced they were banning single-use shopping bags over the coming year. New Zealand has approximately 750-million plastic bags used each year. Australia, too, has taken steps to reducing single use shopping bags- with major supermarkets (such as Coles and Woolworths) working to “ban the bag”- ultimately to drastically reduce plastic usage, and encourage sustainable and environmentally-friendly approaches.