Hobart is set to say goodbye to single-use plastics, after the council voted to enforce its ban on non-compostable food packaging from next year, becoming the first city in Australia to do so.
- Hobart will ban single-use plastics from 2021
- It will apply to all non-compostable takeaway food packaging
- South Australia, Queensland and the ACT are also looking at similar bans
The nation-leading ban follows moves by the EU to ban the products across its member nations from 2021, with Canada following suit, ditching straws, bags and cutlery.
Meanwhile China will ban plastic bags across all cities and towns from 2022 and restaurants will reduce their consumption of single-use plastics by 30 per cent by 2025.
Back home, South Australia’s Government is looking at similar legislation with the intention to introduce it to Parliament this year, the ACT has also flagged its interest, while Queensland is looking at scrapping plastic straws, cutlery and plates and will consider extending the band to other items, like coffee cups, “down the track”.
The case for an Australia-wide ban has already been made, with a 2018 Senate inquiry recommending it be implemented over the next five years and the Prime Minister noting that it needed to be worked on.
Now with all eyes on Hobart’s attempt, the question is how will it work and will it be successful?
About 40 per cent of plastics we consume today are single-use — things like cutlery, plates, food containers and electronics packaging.
The Hobart City Council’s ban tackles non-compostable takeaway food packaging, which according to the Environment Protection Authority Tasmania, makes up about 50 per cent of the city’s rubbish.
It was estimated that the ban would take 10 million bits of single-use plastic out of the waste stream and litter stream every year in Hobart.
The ban includes, but is not limited to, tubs and lids, cups and cup lids, utensils, including cutlery, stirrers and straws, sachets and packets.
Yes, even the soy sauce fish is on its way out.
It does not, however, mean the end of containers, straws or utensils, all of these can be substituted with compostable packaging.
While it’s not considered to be the ultimate solution to litter, compostable packaging is able to break down in the environment, particularly when disposed of properly.
Councillor Bill Harvey said if you were at home, this meant putting waste in a Food Organics, Garden Organics (FOGO) bin, but the same option was not available on the street.
“We won’t have bins that take compostables in the streets for quite a while now because there will still be too much confusion and contamination,” he said.
Exceptions to the rule
The downside is that it is likely to cost a little more.
The council’s impact assessment found the average increase in cost for businesses would be between $200 and $300 a year.
But Cr Harvey said most consumers were happy to foot the bill.
“We also have data that says that the people of Hobart are prepared to pay slightly more to use compostable packaging because they know there’s benefits in using compostable rather than the detriment of using single-use plastics,” he said.
It also does not apply to pre-packaged food that has been sold to a retailer with the exception of condiment sachets for things like soy sauce and mustard.
There is also an exception for soft-plastics such as cling-wrap.
“We recognise that cling-wrap, while problematic, is a valuable material in keeping food fresh,” Cr Harvey said.
And yes you can still rock up with your own single-use plastic containers ready to be filled up.
Council research found that about a third of Hobart’s 300 businesses were already using some form of compostable packaging, and the hope, said Cr Harvey, was that this by-law would nudge the rest to make the change.
“The objective isn’t to punish people, but to help businesses phase out in a logical, coordinated way and assist them in that process,” he said.
The by-law will be enforced by the council’s Health Officers during their regular safety checks.
Businesses that fail to comply can be issued with an infringement notice and a fine of $336.
Questions over implementing on a council basis
One of the unique things about Hobart’s ban is that it simply applies to a municipality, with even the other three Greater Hobart councils saying they are unlikely to follow suit in the near future.
So cross the Tasman Bridge, head down the Southern Outlet or simply drive into the northern suburbs and plastic will be back in fashion.
Alderman Simon Behrakis said he was concerned this would “disadvantage many businesses in Hobart compared to their counterparts in other areas”.
“While most of the business community and wider community agree that we need to move away from single-use plastics, the question is what are the consequences?” he said.
“Adopting this on a council by council basis as opposed to on a state-wide or national basis will result in business owners in one council area having to pay sometimes disproportionally higher fees for different packaging.
“You can have have a business in New Town having to pay 6 cents for spoons and knives and forks for instance, whereas a business 100 metres up the road in the Glenorchy Council area only has to pay 1.5 cents.”
Business reaction though has been pretty positive.
North Hobart cake shop owner Alistair Wise said it was scary, but necessary.
“We’ve got to live up to our clean green image and the only way we can do that is sometimes you’ve gotta go first and I think that’s a good thing,” Mr Wise said.
A similar sentiment was echoed by his neighbour, restaurant owner Tien Ho.
“Initially it may cost us a little bit but in the long term when everyone [is] on board it will go down, the cost, anyways, so fantastic,” Mr Ho said.
Those who own a franchise will be expected to make sure their Hobart-based outlets are up to scratch, but what they do with the rest of their stores is up to them.
Even multi-nationals like McDonalds will be asked to comply.
Topics: business-economics-and-finance, industry, plastics-and-rubber, environment, environmental-impact, environmental-management, environmental-policy, environmental-technology, environmentally-sustainable-business, local-government, politics-and-government, science-and-technology, horticulture, composting-and-water-conservation, composting, tas, hobart-7000, launceston-7250
- Angry parents protest after primary schools BAN packed lunches in bid to cut down on single-use plastic and make children healthier
- How to Set Up and Use the Ecobee4 Smart Thermostat
- How to Set Up and Use Your Google Home
- How to Set Up and Use Your Nest Learning Thermostat
- Strict enforcement of plastic ban in city from January 1
- 10 ways to make your New Year's resolution a life with less plastic
- The plastic polluters won 2019 – and we're running out of time to stop them
- Ready Steady Cook reboot is going eco-friendly by axing its famous plastic carrier bags of ingredients
- Plastics down but not out
- Plastics campaign calls for grassroots action to cut pollution across the UK
- Now, exchange plastic for breakfast, coffee
- From plastic bags to natural hair, here are the new laws coming in 2020
- British holidaymakers slam 'snowflake' P&O Cruises for ditching patriotic singalongs and Union flags at its sail-away parties
- Think you can't live without plastic bags? Consider this: Rwanda did it
- Plastic toys not so fantastic and nor is the packaging
- Corporation all set to enforce plastic ban
- Plastic-eating mealworms could help clean up the environment: Study finds creatures can consume Styrofoam without accumulating toxins in their body -allowing them to still be used as food for other animals
- Golden Globes go vegan - but will the stars ditch their In-N-Out burgers?
- All efforts to enforce plastic ban in Kollam
- Co-op bank sets up plastic collection centre
Hobart set to ditch single-use plastic, but how will it play out? have 1409 words, post on www.abc.net.au at March 11, 2020. This is cached page on Travel News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.