Victorian single-use plastics ban

The National Retail Association (NRA) commends the Andrews’ Government for its announcement today outlining its plan to introduce a ban on single-use plastic straws, cutlery, stirrers and plates, as well as expanded polystyrene foodware.

David Stout, Director of Policy with the National Retail Association said that retailers were supportive of positive environmental initiatives with appropriate consultation and time to manage the transition.

“We commend Minister D’Ambrosio and her team on moving ahead with the next phase of reducing the impact of plastic litter in our environment,” Mr Stout said.

Victoria will now join Queensland, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory in pursuing single-use plastics bans this year with South Australia’s ban coming into effect on Monday.

“As many Aussie business now operate across state borders, we appreciate that the Victorian Government seeks to take a nationally-consistent and consultative approach.”

“Retailers have been innovating and proactively transitioning away from single-use plastic foodware in line with Australian consumer expectations for many years. I think we can all appreciate that national harmonization between states and territories is essential to reduce confusion for customers and complexity for businesses.”

Mr Stout said that the National Retail Association looked forward to consultation with the Victorian Government in coming weeks and months to contribute industry’s technical expertise and experience with previous legislation such as the 2019 ban on lightweight plastic shopping bags.

“Compliance with the bag ban is high and both retailers and consumers have adjusted well to reusable options with retailers reporting up to 90 per cent drop in the consumption of all shopping bags since 2018.”

Mr Stout also noted that retailers will need at least 12 to 18 months to phase-out old stock and source alternatives, especially given supply complications caused by COVID-19.

“Retailers, especially cafes, restaurants and party supply businesses, have been doing it tough with many forced to close during the height of the pandemic, and they will need time and support to comply,” he said.

“It’s not as simple as switching it out one day – retailers often order a years’ worth of stock in advance, and they will need clearly defined legislation as well as time to exhaust those supplies, research alternatives, negotiate new supply chains, train their teams, and educate their customers.”

“Retailers are eager to comply and we will continue to work with government to seek clarity for businesses.”