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New South Wales to ban plastic straws, cutlery as state wages war against problematic plastics

Single-use plastics including shopping bags and cutlery will be banned from stores across NSW in as little as six months. 

Environment minister Matt Kean vowed to ban a range of 'problematic plastics' when he took the NSW Plastics Action Plan to cabinet on Monday.

Plastic food utensils, cosmetic products and tableware are among the items that have been included on the hit list. 

Some items are expected to be phased out sooner than others when legislation is passed by the end of the year.

Environment minister Matt Kean vowed to ban a range of problematic plastics when he took the NSW Plastics Action Plan to Cabinet on Monday

Single-use plastics including shopping bags and cutlery will soon be phased out from stores across New South Wales in as little as six months (stock image)

Lightweight plastic shopping bags could be banned within six months of the law being passed while plastic straws and cutlery will be phased out within 12 months.  

'This is about NSW leading the way when it comes to reducing plastic litter in our environment... ensuring we hand our environment to the next generation better than we found it,' Mr Kean told Sydney Morning Herald. 

Microbeads in hygiene and cosmetic products, styrofoam tableware, and cotton buds with plastic stems will also be banned within the next year.

The state government also plans to review numerous other 'problematic plastic' items within the next three years.

They include heavyweight plastic shopping bags, plastic plates and cups and lids, and fruit stickers.

The state government promised to ban all single-use plastics by 2025 and reach several waste reduction targets by 2030.

It hopes to reduce personal waste by 10 per cent and overall waste by 60 per cent.   

'We must reduce the plastics ending up in our environment because we are on track to see more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050,' Mr Kean said. 

The environment minister also put forward plans to provide green bins to every Australian household for their food and garden waste. 

Many local government areas still only use two bins: yellow bins for recycling, and red bins for garbage.

Mr Kean hopes that by providing another bin just for perishables it will halve the amount of garbage going to red bins and ending up in landfill.

Lightweight plastic shopping bags could be banned within six months of the law being passed while plastic straws and cutlery will be phased out within 12 months

Australia generates around 2.5million tonnes of plastic waste every year with 84 per cent ending up in landfill

Supermarkets and hospitality venues will also be forced to throw their food waste into a separate bin to their garbage.

The changes are expected to be announced at the upcoming NSW budget. 

'This is the biggest shake up of how we deal with waste in a generation,' Mr Kean said.

'It's about turning our waste into a resource, driving down costs for families, and delivering a better environment for everyone.'

Australian Marine Conservation Society plastics campaign manager Shane Cucow said NSW was the largest consumer of plastics in the country.

'We would congratulate the NSW government for listening to ocean lovers across the state who have been demanding action to save threatened seabirds, whales and turtles,' she said. 

Australia generates around 2.5million tonnes of plastic waste every year with 84 per cent ending up in landfill. 

Around 130,000 tonnes also spills into the environment, killing wildlife and destroying their habitats.   

The war against single-use plastics 

The New South Wales government has waged war against plastics and is hoping to pass legislation banning the single-use products by the end of the year.

Below is a list of items that will slowly be phased out and when they will no longer be available once the law is passed:  

- Lightweight shopping bags (six months)

- Plastic straws (12 months)

- Plastic stirrers (12 months)

- Plastic cutlery (12 months)

- Cotton buds with plastic sticks (12 months)

- Expanded polystyrene cups and serving ware (12 months)

- Microbeads in rinse-off personal care and cosmetic products (12 months)

More plastic products will also be put under review within the next three years. They include:  

- Heavyweight plastic bags 

- Barrier produce bags 

- Plastic cups/lids 

- Fruit stickers

- Plastic plates and bowls

- Oxo degradable plastics 

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