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Single Use Plastic Bans in different countries

Plastic Bans

Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations in the U.S. 

Currently, the U.S. has not placed a single-use plastic ban on a federal level, but this responsibility has been taken up by states and cities. Connecticut, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Oregon, and Vermont have all placed bans on plastic bags. San Francisco was the first city to completely ban plastic bags in 2007. The rest of California implemented their plastic bag ban in 2014, and since then there has been a 70% reduction in plastic bag usage within the state.  However, you can still find plastic bags in grocery stores, as rules have not been properly enforced over the past few years.  New York faces a similar situation, as plastic bags were banned in the state in 2020 but some businesses still continue to distribute them; again mostly due to lax enforcement of pollution rules.  Some of this can be attributed to COVID-19, which complicated efforts towards reducing plastic usage. The surge in gloves, masks, and other PPE have been detrimental to the health of our oceans. Since the beginning of the pandemic, oceans have seen more  than 57 million pounds of COVID-related waste. On a brighter note, as the world is starting to recover from the effects of the pandemic, attention is returning to the effects of plastic on the environment, with stricter enforcement. The pandemic has brought to attention once again how serious the plastic pollution problem is, and the many pollution reduction policies that have been suspended or postponed are being put into effect again.

Looking to the future, the U.S. Interior Department has stated that by 2032, single-use plastic products will be phased out of national parks and some public lands. 

Australian states and territories have committed to ban single-use plastics.

The ACT Government’s ban on single-use plastic cutlery, drink stirrers and polystyrene food and beverage containers commenced 1 July 2021, with straws, cotton bud sticks and degradable plastics phased out on 1 July 2022. In a third tranche of plastics to be banned, single-use plastic plates and bowls, expanded polystyrene loose fill packaging, expanded polystyrene trays and plastic microbeads were be banned on 1 July 2023, and will be followed by heavyweight plastic bags on 1 July 2024. 

The New South Wales Government’s ban on single-use plastics commenced on 1 November 2022, banning plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, plates and bowls, expanded polystyrene food service items, plastic cotton bud sticks, and microbeads in cosmetics. Lightweight plastic shopping bags were phased out on 1 June 2022. 

The Northern Territory Government has committed to ban single-use plastics by 2025 under the NT Circular Economy Strategy, proposing to ban plastic bags, plastic straws and stirrers, plastic cutlery, plastic bowls and plates, expanded polystyrene (EPS), consumer food containers, microbeads in personal health care products, EPS consumer goods packaging (loose fill and moulded), and helium balloons. This may include heavyweight plastic bags, subject to a consultation process. 
The Queensland Government’s ban on single-use plastics commenced on 1 September 2021, banning single-use plastic straws, drink stirrers, cutlery, plates, bowls and polystyrene food & beverage containers. On 1 September 2023, the ban will be extended to plastic microbeads, cotton bud sticks, loose fill polystyrene packaging, and the mass release of lighter-than-air balloons. The government has also said they will introduce a reusability standard for carry bags on 1 September 2023, which will in effect ban disposable heavyweight plastic bags. 

South Australia’s ban on single-use plastics commenced on 1 March 2021, banning single-use plastic straws, drink stirrers and cutlery, followed by polystyrene food & beverage containers and oxo-degradable plastics on 1 March 2022. Further items including thick plastic bags, single-use plastic cups  and plastic takeaway containers will banned between 2023-2025. 
The Victoria State Government laws banning single-use plastics commenced on 1 February 2023, including single-use plastic straws, cutlery, plates, drink stirrers, polystyrene food and drink containers, and plastic cotton bud sticks. The ban includes conventional, degradable, and compostable plastic versions of these items. 

The Western Australia Government has passed laws to ban plastic plates, bowls, cups, cutlery, stirrers, straws, thick plastic bags, polystyrene food containers, and helium balloon releases by 2022. In stage two, due to commence from 27 February 2023, takeaway coffee cups/lids containing plastic, plastic barrier/produce bags, takeaway containers, cotton buds with plastic shafts, polystyrene packaging, microbeads and oxo-degradable plastics will begin to be banned (although bans will not take effect for between 6 – 28 months after this date depending on the item). 

Tasmania has made no commitments to ban single-use plastics, however bans on single-use plastics have been implemented by city councils in Hobart and Launceston.