Government plans to phase out eight types of plastic by 2025

Wednesday, 21 April, 2021

Government plans to phase out eight types of plastic by 2025

A virtual meeting between Australian national environment ministers has supported a plan to phase out eight ‘problematic and unnecessary’ plastic product types by 2025.

The goals are set under the government’s 2019 National Waste Policy Action Plan, which also aims to harmonise waste and recycling standards between the states.

The eight problematic plastics include lightweight plastic bags; plastic products misleadingly termed as ‘degradable’; plastic straws; plastic utensils and stirrers; expanded polystyrene (EPS) consumer food containers (eg, cups and clamshells); EPS consumer goods packaging (loose-fill and moulded); and microbeads in personal healthcare products.

The move follows the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation’s (APCO) report in October, which helped to define what constitutes a problematic and unnecessary plastic product.

APCO said it undertook extensive consultation with industry and government to develop a rigorous and transparent approach to identifying items for phase-out. This included two national workshops, 10 working group meetings and one public survey, all intended to encapsulate the feedback of a broad group of stakeholders.

The plan will also run in conjunction with the government’s National Plastics Plan, unveiled in March.

Federal Minister for the Environment Sussan Ley said it was time to change the way Australians produce and consume plastics and that it was time for states, industry and consumers to drive sustainable change.

“From plastic bottles to polystyrene packaging and plastic consumer goods, we are creating mountains of pain for the environment and wasting potential assets that can be used to make new products,” Ley said.

“We are attacking the plastic problem on five key fronts: through legislation, investment, industry targets, research and development, and community education.”

The Australian Food and Grocery Council (AFGC) said it supports the National Plastics Plan, saying it recognises the role that all parties need to play in eliminating plastics from the environment.

“National plans are required to develop a circular economy, moving from a linear economy to a remanufacturing model where recycled material meets the quality specifications of end markets,” the Council said in a statement.

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