Single-use plastics are on the way in every Australian state and territory with nationally consistent rules to be implemented.
NSW will ban the general sale of plastic straws and stirrers, flatware and swabs from November 1, and other jurisdictions will follow at their own pace.
The NSW ban also includes polystyrene food packaging and microbeads in personal care products.
Starting next week, paper straws will replace plastic straws in NSW with single-use plastic ban coming into effect
At Thai Cuisine, employee Chris says the company will now focus on bags made from corn
Lightweight plastic bags have been banned since June.
Companies selling prohibited items face fines of up to $55,000, and intentionally flouting the rules can cost up to $275,000.
The decision to have a nationally consistent policy on single-use plastics was taken this week at a meeting of environment ministers.
Queensland already has a ban on single-use plastic straws and cups and will extend that to cotton swabs next year.
Victoria plans to copy the general NSW ban in February next year, while other states commit to doing the same at different speeds.
National retail organizations have called for national consistency around plastic use.
Light single-use plastic bans are also being phased out across Australia after a meeting of environment ministers
Paul Zahra, CEO of the Australian Retailers Association, said it is particularly difficult for smaller retailers to deal with different regimes.
“The challenge is that we have different products that are being phased out at different times across the country,” he told the newspaper. Sydney Morning Herald.
Major supermarket chains such as Coles, Woolworths and Aldi have already removed a lot of single-use plastic from their shelves.
The Environment Ministry said having national rules “will be good for the environment and make life easier for businesses, especially those with a national footprint.”
Under the NSW ban, there will be exemptions for those who need plastic straws for medical, scientific or forensic reasons and will still be available to purchase online or at drug stores.
Plastic-coated paper plates and bowls have a two-year reflection period to find alternatives.
Yui, who works at Japanese noodle shop Gumshara in Sydney’s Haymarket (pictured right with plastic trays up), told the Daily Mail Australia: ‘It’s good for the environment, but it’s getting a little annoying for us’
NSW government estimates ban on single-use plastic items will reduce litter by 2.7 billion items
The NSW government estimates the ban will reduce litter by 2.7 billion items.
A major concern with single-use plastics is that they shed tiny specks of so-called microplastics, which are so ubiquitous that they have been found on top of Mount Everest, in the snows of Antarctica and especially in fish.
Italian researchers last week warned about the presence of microplastics in human breast milk and warned pregnant women to avoid food, drink, facial cream or even toothpaste in plastic.
Scientists have discovered microplastics in the lungs, brains and blood of both living and dead people.
They have been linked to the development of cancer, heart disease and dementia, as well as fertility problems.
Enjoy cream puffs in a plastic container with a couple outside the famous Emperor’s Garden Restaurant of Chinatown in Sydney
Microplastics are pieces of plastic that are smaller than five millimeters. Most come from single-use plastics, such as bottles and food packaging, which break down slowly (stock image)
However, Britain’s top toxicology experts said the panic may have been exaggerated and the research was unreliable.
“Many researchers are guilty of using scare tactics,” Professor Richard Lampitt, an expert on microplastics at the National Oceanography Center, told The Mail on Sunday.
At the September right-wing CPAC event in Sydney, ‘rogue’ environmentalist Michael Shellenberger argued that plastic waste in the environment was largely the result of ‘pretending’ it was recyclable.
“(We) pretend we recycle plastic waste, ship it to poor countries where they don’t have a waste disposal system and it ends up in the oceans,” said Mr Shellenberger.
Mr Shellenberger advocated incineration of plastic waste.
“The solution to plastic waste, I know this is shocking to hear, is to throw it in the landfill or incinerate it, that’s where it belongs,” he said.
“It should be thrown in the trash, please stop recycling your plastic waste that ends up in the oceans.”
WHAT CAN MICROPLASTICS DO TO THE HUMAN BODY IF THEY ENTER OUR FOOD SUPPLY?
according to an article published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, our understanding of the potential human health impacts of exposure to microplastics represents ‘major knowledge gaps’.
Humans can be exposed to plastic particles through consumption of seafood and terrestrial food products, drinking water and through the air.
However, the level of human exposure, chronic toxic effect levels and underlying mechanisms by which microplastics trigger effects are not yet well understood enough to make a full assessment of the risks to humans.
According to Rachel Adamsassociate professor of biomedical sciences at Cardiff Metropolitan University, the ingestion of microplastics can cause a number of potentially harmful effects, such as:
- Inflammation: When inflammation occurs, the body’s white blood cells and the substances they produce protect us from infection. This normally protective immune system can cause tissue damage.
- An immune response to anything considered ‘foreign’: such immune responses can cause damage to the body.
- Become carriers of other toxins that enter the body: Microplastics generally repel water and will bind to toxins that do not dissolve, so microplastics can bind to compounds containing toxic metals, such as mercury, and organic pollutants such as some pesticides and chemicals called dioxins, which are known to cause cancer, as well as reproductive and developmental problems. When these microplastics enter the body, toxins can build up in adipose tissue.