BRISBANE, AAP – Helium balloons, takeaway containers, and cigarette filters should be “up for discussion” as the Queensland government seeks feedback about the next single-use plastics to be phased out, WWF-Australia says.
Single-use plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery and plates, as well as containers and cups made from expanded polystyrene, were covered in an initial ban that came into effect in September, and consultation about expanding the list has now opened, Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon says.
“Items we are considering to be part of the ban next include coffee cups and lids, plastic drinking cups, dome lids like those used on milkshakes, plastic wrapping on magazines or newspapers, fruit and vegetable produce bags, expanded polystyrene meat trays, balloon sticks and closures, and bread bag tags,” Ms Scanlon said.
Taking action on “so many problematic plastics”, especially expanded polystyrene trays, would be pleasing to see, WWF-Australia’s No Plastics in Nature Policy Manager Kate Noble said.
“Expanded polystyrene is particularly dangerous, as it can break down and flow into our oceans in billions of bite-sized pieces,” she said.
But the government should also be reviewing other polluting plastics, especially cigarette filters, Ms Noble said.
“Helium balloon releases, plastic takeaway containers, and cigarette filters should all be up for discussion to be banned in Queensland and around the country,” she said.
“Most cigarette filters are made of plastic. Cigarette butts are consistently the most littered item in Australia, but they continue to fall through the cracks when it comes to plastics policy.”
The initial plastics ban received huge support from the community during consultations, with 94 per cent of 20,000 respondents supporting the proposal.
Boomerang Alliance director Jeff Angel said state’s such as Queensland and South Australia could pave the way nationally with their commitments to phasing out plastics.
“We urge both states to move quickly, and set the benchmark for the rest of Australia,” Mr Angel said.
“There are plenty of alternatives in the market. They can be avoided, they can be replaced with reusable items or switched to non-plastic or certified compostable items.
“The sooner we can harmonise across Australia the better it will be for our waterways, oceans, marine life, food chain, consumers and retailers.”
The related legislation made provision for more single-use items to be banned through regulation in the future.