This month has brought in a new wave of restrictions regarding plastic use for Aussie businesses and consumers, furthering the goal to phase out single-use plastics by 2025. Here’s what you need to know – plus how these changes will affect your business.
While lightweight plastic bags have been banned in NSW since June, there are a number of new single-use plastic items coming up on the hit list this month and in the near future. Let’s get into the reasons for these changes and how they’ll affect you.
Why is the government phasing out single-use plastics?
The reason is mainly regarding the environment and the impact single-use plastics have on it – for one, in NSW alone these plastics make up 60% of our litter with around 40% of that number winding up in our oceans and waterways where it can damage ecosystems and kill marine life. These bans are the beginning stages of a larger goal to phase out single-use plastics altogether with the hopes of preventing some 2.7 billion pieces of plastic from polluting our ecosystems. But it’s not just here in Australia – around the world plastic pollution poses a major threat to our environment, along with bolstering global warming, and with 8 trillion tonnes of plastic entering our oceans every year and 100, 000 deaths of marine life, it’s clear to see why initiatives and legal changes are being rolled out.
Plus, it’s not just wildlife and the environment at risk, our health is also up in the air with all these plastic pollutants around us. When we consume microplastics that have seeped into our food and water sources we end up with imbalanced hormones and inflammation. Studies have shown long-term exposure is can damage the endocrine system and cause issues with reproductive function.
The new changes
This month has brought with it a whole host of new banned items for NSW, including the following plastic items:
- Single-use straws and stirrers
- Single-use sporks and cutlery
- Single-use plates and bowls
- Single-use cotton buds
- Expanded polystyrene bowls, plates and food service items
- Microbeads in personal care products
As of the 1st of November, NSW business will no longer be allowed to supply these products to customers, nor will they be allowed to stock them for the purpose of selling them. The ban also prohibits businesses from giving these items away for free, along with extending the banned items to include biodegradable plastics, as these items require specific handling to be truly biodegradable.
For now, a number of items will still be allowed, including the following:
- Plastic cups and bowls with a spill-proof lid
- Plastic tongs and servers
- Polystyrene produce/meat trays
- Bin liners
- Nappy bags
- Dog waste bags
- Medical bags
It’s also worth noting that some of the banned items have a few exemptions, for instance, plastic straws may be provided to those with disabilities, while cotton buds can still be used in a medical context. Plastic-lined plates and bowls may also be supplied while business search for alternative materials.
The consequences for selling banned items
The environmental regulator for NSW may fine business caught selling or giving customers banned items, though The Environmental Protection Agency says the first port of call will be to provide education to business and encourage cooperation with the new laws. The next step will be on-the-spot fines, ranging from $1100 for smaller businesses and $5500 for corporations. Customers, however, will not be fined for using these items.
What you can do
You might be wondering what your next steps are to ensure your business is compliant while still supplying quality service – luckily there are a number of easily accessible and affordable alternatives to these plastic wares. Bamboo, paper and wooden alternatives to cutlery, cups, plates and bowls are all on the market, while you can easily find metal and silicone straws – this way you won’t have to worry about soggy paper straws melting before your customer takes their first sip!
Take a look at the many alternative materials to single-use plastics:
- Beeswax in place of plastic wrap and packaging
- Silicone in place of plastic food covers, lids, straws and utensils
- Metal straws, cutlery, bowls and plates
- Paper bags
- Glass cups, bowls and plates
- Glass bottles and personal care dispensers
The IQS Infuser Insulated Bottle
If you’re looking for an affordable, sustainable alternative for water bottles, we’re dropping a new range of insulated bottles that won't leave you or your customers ingesting any microplastics, nor will they end up polluting our oceans. Plus, it doesn't hurt that you'll be drinking in style! You can put anything from water to tea and coffee in these handy bottles, and with their high-grade stainless steel make, these bottles are sturdy. They've also got a removable infuser for any tea lovers out there, with the added bonus of copper-plated insulation to keep your drink hot or cold for 12 hours. Say hello to your new go-to bottle for every occasion!
Check our sustainable bottles out HERE.
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