Sustainability Victoria and the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) has been working to support Victorian Councils as the state approaches its single-use plastics ban.

With single-use plastics prohibited from being sold and supplied from 1 February 2023, councils must take responsibility for policy changes at a local level.

The ban includes single-use plastic drinking straws, cutlery, plates, drink stirrers and cotton bud sticks made from conventional, degradable, and compostable plastics. Food service items and drink containers made from expanded polystyrene are also prohibited.

Single-use plastics:

  • Make up a third of the litter we see in our environment – they are difficult and costly toclean up
  • Are a poor use of resources – they are often used for only a few minutes and generatesignificant waste that is not recyclable
  • Pollute the environment – harming wildlife and contaminating our food and water, this is ofparticular concern given the toxicity of plastic items and their ability to bioaccumulate
  • Can often be easily avoided or replaced with reusable products

The ban applies to businesses and organisations including not-for-profits, government, sports clubs, schools, and others that are incorporated.

It is the responsibility of all Victorian businesses and organisations, including councils, to comply with the regulations and not sell or supply certain single-use plastic items, including to patrons or customers.

Sustainability Victoria is supporting DEECA in the delivery of the single-use plastic ban providing a complementary focus on increasing reuse across the hospitality industry.

More than 70 councils from across the state attended a recent webinar hosted by Sustainability Victoria with guests from the City of Adelaide and the Australian Capital Territory Government to discussg single-use plastic ban implementation and share key learnings.

At the webinar for councils, Sustainability Victoria outlined findings from its engagement program which has reached 3,265 businesses across 31 LGAs. 

Through direct engagement with the hospitality sector, it found that although 40 per cent of businesses had not heard about the ban and 70 per cent are already taking action that will prepare them for the ban.

Sustainability Victoria Interim CEO, Matt Genever, said, “Pleasingly we found about 40 per cent of businesses surveyed have no barriers to accepting reusable items. This supports our focus on the uptake of reusables and waste avoidance where possible.

“Re-use has always been a big part of our program. We have implemented the Circular Economy Reuse Pilots Fund which is enabling us to trial reuse options and collect data that will inform other businesses on the feasibility of the reuse in different hospitality settings.”

The Australian Capital Territory introduced a similar single-use plastic ban in 2021 and Australian Capital Territory Waste Avoidance Officer, Marianne Ching, found that some businesses still had excess stock when the ban commenced. 

This showcases that it is important that businesses prepare  for the ban by running down stocks of banned items.

To support councils to communicate with businesses in their community about how the ban will affect them, an information toolkit has been developed and is available here.

Helpful, easy-to-use resources to assist business and organisations to prepare for the ban can also be found here.

Tips for councils to prepare for the single-use plastic ban in Victoria from 1 February 2023:

Use up any stocks of the banned items council is using. Banned items cannot be sold, supplied or provided from 1 February 2023

  • Have a discussion with suppliers or procurement to find suitable alternatives

Proactively support local businesses in their transition to reusables – encourage them to register for a free information session being run by the National

  • Retail Association every Friday at 11:00am (being run until the end of January 2023)

Promote through economic development teams to local traders’ association sand business groups

  • Download the information toolkit

To watch the webinar click here or download the slides here.

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