Innovation, Politics

Bags banned: South Australia to ditch plastic in cafe and retail trial

Matthew Elmas /

Plastic straws, single-use coffee cups and plastic bags of all types will no longer be supplied in select areas within South Australia under a state government trial to help tackle Australia’s waste crisis.

In a first-of-its-kind initiative, businesses within four precincts in the wine state will ditch single-use plastic items. This is the first time an Australian state has explored a ban which goes beyond single-use plastic bags.

The Adelaide Central Market, the Parade at Norwood, Jetty Road Brighton Traders and 21 surf life saving clubs in the state have been listed as initial participants, announced Saturday.

The program will focus on hospitality, cafe and food-service businesses in these areas, requiring them to, at least, ditch all take-away cutlery and polystyrene food packaging, as well as plastic straws, single-use coffee cups and all plastic bags, single-use or otherwise.

The Boomerang Alliance and the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation have been engaged to develop, implement and manage the scheme after industry consultation earlier this year.

South Australian Environment Minister David Speirs said there was a clear message from the community on plastic waste.

“The message from the community is clear, they expect government to lead on the issue of plastics, and it definitely feels like the time is right to reduce, remove and replace single-use plastics where ever we can,” he said in a statement circulated Monday.

“These first four partners are just the first step, and we expect more plastic-free precincts will follow soon given the high quality of the other applications from across the state,” Spiers said.

“Our government is seeking a wide range of input on what any future phase-out or replacement for single-use plastic might look like and the stakeholder taskforce will play an important role in our decision making.”

The trial is significant because previously, state governments have stopped short of bans which move beyond single-use plastic bags, leaving waste associated with other common disposable items to the market.

Should South Australia’s trial be successful, it could serve as a model for other jurisdictions across the country to begin regulating the supply of disposable plastic items more broadly.

South Australia has committed to outlawing single-use plastic bags by 2020.

The trial comes amid new warnings about the effects the global plastic crisis is having on humanity, with researchers in Europe reporting earlier this week that microplastics are, in addition to polluting oceans, contaminating the air.

About 8.1 billion kilograms of plastic waste flows into the world’s oceans every year, less than a fifth of which is recycled.

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Matthew Elmas

Matthew is the news editor at SmartCompany. You can contact him at [email protected].