The Qld plastics ban - a guide for community groups
If you’re reading this then it’s likely that you’re a part of a community group in Queensland whose operations are be affected by the statewide single-use plastics ban, which came into effect on September 1st 2021.
Our Plastic Free Places team has been appointed by the Queensland State Government to conduct a series of information forums across the state to help groups just like yours understand and be able to comply with the ban.
We recognise that for the majority of Queenslanders, a lot of this information is fresh and you’re being exposed to products, certifications and ways of operating you have not seen before.
Below is a summary of the most important information from our forums to help guide you.
Why a ban?
Plastic is everywhere. It is in the environment, it's in animals , it's in water bodies, it's even in you and me.
Astonishingly, half of all plastic produced in the world is designed to be used only once - and then thrown away. This explosion of single-use plastic has outpaced our ability to deal with the waste we have created.
Both local and international communities have decided that, in order to stem the tide of single-use plastics, bans on certain products are needed.
In Australia nearly all states and territories have, or are in the process of, implementing bans similar to ours here in Queensland.
What are the banned items?
From the 1st of September the following items are banned from sale and use throughout the state of Queensland:
Note: EPS is polystyrene foam.
The following items are currently exempt from the ban:
straws or cutlery that come with pre-packaged food and beverages (e.g. a straw attached to juice box, a fork inside a pre-packaged meal).
Bowls or plates in shelf-ready pre-packaged foods (e.g. a bowl in frozen meal).
Expanded polystyrene trays (e.g. meat trays)
What items are allowable?
The following items are allowable under the ban:
A note on Australian Compost Standards
It is a requirement under the ban that single-use alternatives to banned items that contain compostable plastics/bioplastics must be certified under one or both of the Australian Compost Standards to be allowable.
These standards are the AS 5810 - for Home Composting, and the AS 4736 - for Commercial Composting. You can recognise them by the following symbols:
Note: Ensure the actual standard code is written on the item, not just the logo.
Australian Certified Compostable products are able to break down under the conditions specified by their standard. Items certified under the home compost standard (AS 5810) are able to break down in backyard compost systems, and items certified commercially compostable are only able to break down effectively when collected and taken to an industrial composter.
Future items being considered for a ban
It is important to note that there will be more items included in future bans. The Queensland government have outlined that due to the positive response from industry, business owners and individuals to the first round of bans, the following items are planned to be banned from the 1st September 2023:
cotton buds with plastic stems
expanded polystyrene loose packaging
plastic microbeads in rinseable personal care and cleaning products
heavy weight plastic shopping bags
the mass release of lighter then air balloons.
It is valuable to prepare for this as soon as possible to ensure a smooth and compliant transition.
A guide on how to switch these future items can be found HERE.
How to apply the ban to your organisation
If you’re using any banned single-use plastic items for your fundraising and community activities, the good news is that there are accessible and affordable alternatives.
We've considered the situations you're most likely to be using them (market/event stalls, sausage sizzles, canteens etc.) and provided some options for you below.
To set the context first though, we ask you to always remember one thing - before making any changes, consider the following hierarchy of avoid, reuse and switch. It is always better to avoid the item where you can, then look for a reusable option, and if neither is possible, then look for a compostable alternative (and reduce how much you give out!).
If switching to compostable items, home compostable items are always preferred, as items which are suitable for commercial composting present an array of issues the litter and waste streams due to the specific conditions needed for them to completely break down.
As a general rule, avoid items which compostable plastics where you can, and choose items made of more natural materials such as paper, wood, cardboard, bamboo and sugarcane pulp (bagasse). Look for options sourced from sustainable (FSC) origins.
Plates & bowls
Expanded polystyrene cups and takeaway containers
What should I do now?
Stop ordering banned items and look at ways to use up existing stock.
If you have large amounts of unopened stock, check with your supplier if you can return some. Some suppliers may even offer to collect unused stock and provide credit towards compliant alternatives.
Have a look at the activities you undertake and use this guide to create a plan on how you can avoid, reuse and switch any banned items you are using.
Consider any future banned items, and decide if you'd like to start switching over from them now also. You can use use our guide HERE to help you.
Find a local supplier for any compostable items needed and ask some key questions (see below) to ensure you are getting the items you need.
Questions to ask your supplier
The onus to provide you with items that are compliant with the legislation is on your supplier. To ensure you are protected, ask the following questions, and get the answers in writing:
1. Do these items comply with the Queensland legislation that will come into effect on 1 September 2021?
2. Do these items contain any form of plastic or compostable plastic? (no matter how small, e.g. glue, coating).
3. Are any items with compostable plastics certified under one or both of the Australian standards, AS5810 or AS4736?
Your supplier must provide clear and legible information about these certifications (e.g. labelling, invoices, or order records).
Note: It is an offence to supply banned items, or to provide false or misleading information about whether an item is banned from 1 September 2021.