Government Update February

Subject: Compliance

Friday 18 February


State and territory policy development on single-use plastics

State and territory governments are continuing to develop and implement policy and legislation on single-use plastics (SUPs), including some packaging items.


In November 2021, the NSW Government passed the Plastic and Circular Economy Act 2021. This legislation provides for the government to ban problematic and single-use plastics items, establish mandatory design standards, mandate product stewardship approaches and targets, and require the development of action plans.


In January 2022, Regulations came into force in WA to ban certain single-use plastic items. Enforcement of bans on stage 1 items will commence from 1 July, except plastic cups (including some plastic-lined paper cups) which are banned from 1 October 2022. Plastic and plastic-lined takeaway coffee cups are included in stage 2 of the bans, which commence on 1 January 2023. Compostable items certified to Australian Standards are exempt from the bans. While WA is the first state to move to ban plastic and plastic-lined cups, other states and territories have indicated that they will consider these items in future tranches.


APCO is continuing to engage with state and territory governments, Members and stakeholders regarding SUPs policies. We are seeking coherent national approaches based on sound evidence and environmental outcomes.


The status of single-use plastic phase outs for the relevant states and territories can be found in the table below.


STATE

SUPs POLICY

STATUS

NSW

The NSW Government has passed the Plastics and Circular Economy Act 2021, meaning a phase-out of certain single-use plastics from June 2022.

This legislation gives effect to the NSW Plastics Action Plan. The Plan also supports the 2025 National Packaging Targets, committing the NSW Government to reviewing progress towards the 2025 Targets and considering mandating targets or design standards if necessary.

From 1 June 2022, the following will be banned*:

The supply of lightweight plastic bags.

From 1 November 2022 the following will be banned*: Single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cutlery.

Single-use plastic bowls and plates

Expanded polystyrene food service items.

Single-use plastic cotton buds and microbeads in certain personal care products.

For review in 3 years:

Plastic bowls (including lids) and plates

Plastic cups (including lids)

Oxo-degradable plastics

Fruit stickers (non-compostable)

Heavyweight plastic shopping bags - Barrier/produce bags

QLD

On 10 March 2021, the Waste Reduction and Recycling (Plastic Items) Amendment Act 2021 was passed by the Queensland Parliament. 


Supported by Queensland’s Plastic Pollution Reduction Plan.

The Act bans the sale or supply of the following items from 1 September 2021:

Straws

Cutlery

Unenclosed bowls and plates

Stirrers

Expanded polystyrene containers and cups

SA

On 9 September 2020, the South Australian Parliament passed the Single-use and Other Plastic Products (Waste Avoidance) Act 2020.

From 1 March 2021, the following have been prohibited from sale, supply or distribution:

Single-use plastic straws

Single-use plastic stirrers Single-use plastic cutlery

From 1 March 2022, the following will be prohibited from sale, supply or distribution:

Expanded polystyrene cups, bowls plates and clamshell containers

Oxo-degradable plastic products (also banned from manufacture and production)

WA

The WA Government announced on 13 June 2021 that it has fast‑tracked

Western Australia’s Plan for Plastics. Regulations to ban single‑use plastics will be developed and implemented in two stages, providing a roadmap towards a more sustainable, plastic‑free Western Australia.

Stage 1 regulations to ban single-use plastic began on 1 January 2022 (with enforcement set to start on 1 July 2022 for all items except cups, which starts on 1 October 2022) and includes: Plates Bowls Stirrers Takeaway EPS food containers Cutlery Cups Thick plastic bags Plastic straws Helium balloon releases

Stage 2 of the Plan will begin on 1 January 2023 and include bans on: Microbeads Coffee cups/lids Polystyrene cups Cotton buds with plastic shafts Barrier/produce bags Polystyrene packaging Oxo-degradable plastics.

 

VIC

The Victoria Government will ban specific single-use plastics across Victoria to reduce the significant amount of plastic waste going to landfill each year. To find out more, click here.

From February 2023, the following single-use items will be banned from sale or supply in Victoria:

Straws

Cutlery

Plates

Drink-stirrers

Expanded polystyrene food and drink containers

Cotton bud sticks


*some exemptions may apply, to see the full details of the proposed bans, please refer to the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment’s website.


Harmonising kerbside recycling

APCO is encouraging and contributing in a practical way to efforts to improve recycling outcomes and move towards harmonisation of kerbside recycling collection for municipal solid waste (MSW).


The ANZPAC Plastic Pact has established a set of  Recovered Polymer Specifications to assist MRF operators and recyclers to understand the needs of downstream markets for recycled materials. The specifications provide a set of 12 Australian industry-agreed standard specifications for recycled polymers and will support the supply of food grade recycled polymers for use in packaging in Australia. They were developed as an initiative of the 2020 APCO Materials Circularity Working Group in consultation with experts along the packaging supply chain.

The specifications aim to:

·        assist companies involved in sorting and processing of recovered plastic packaging;

·        maximise recovery and value and meet the needs of customers; and

·        provide recycling companies with greater clarity on market expectation and buyers’ confidence in the quality of material being supplied.


The Victorian Government is working with councils across Victoria to support the roll out of a standardised four-stream household waste and recycling system for more and better recycling and less waste and landfill. To support the current four-bin system and ensure that each material is maximised for recovery, the Victorian Government is defining which items go into which stream. The aim of this work includes:

·        standardising the inputs for each bin across Victoria;

·        increasing recycling and the quality of recycled materials; and

·        ensuring less waste to landfill.


APCO has remained engaged with the Victorian Government throughout this process, including through a working group, a written submission and several meetings. A key objective for APCO has been for the Victorian Government to include the Australasian Recycling Label (ARL) as part of its decision making on the recyclability of packaging and its consumer education processes. This is a complex and ongoing discussion. An engagement summary is expected to be published by DELWP in early 2022. To find out more, please visit the Engage Victoria website.


APCO met recently with the National Waste and Recycling Industry Council (NWRIC), which is working with government and stakeholders to evaluate standards and specifications for primary sorting facilities and secondary processing facilities handling glass, plastics, metals, paper and cardboard, and organics collected through the MSW stream.


Currently at the draft stage, the aim of this harmonisation includes:

·        assisting Australian recyclers enhance tradeable products both domestically and overseas;

·        meeting market demand for recycled materials;

·        improving the quality of recovered materials and enhancing their tradability; and

·        stimulating domestic re-use of recovered materials by improving market information and greater confidence in the quality of recovered materials.


In discussion with NWRIC, APCO has emphasised the importance of encouraging and supporting sorters and processors to use standards and specifications that will meet the needs of end markets, such as the ANZPAC Recovered Polymer Specifications. Meeting the needs of end markets will improve the quality and value of output materials.

 

Update on the National Environment Protection Measure (Used Packaging Materials) 2011 Review

The report on the review of the National Environment Protection Measure (Used Packaging Materials) 2011 (UPM NEPM) and the Australian Packaging Covenant has now been published by DAWE.


The review, conducted by mpconsulting, identified both strengths and weaknesses in the current regulatory framework, and highlighted elements that need reform to ensure the scheme is fit-for-purpose into the future. The recommendations of the review are:

1.   Establish a clear goal and associated KPIs for a reformed used packaging scheme.

2.   Establish a national agreement (defining goals, principles, roles, timeframes, funding and accountabilities) that forms the basis of a reformed used packaging scheme.

3.   Clarify the liable parties under a reformed used packaging scheme and, of note, recommending any definition should refer to packaging (and not ‘consumer products’, ‘retail products’ or ‘consumer packaging’).

4.   Establish a nationally consistent set of obligations for liable parties, based on those currently described in the Covenant, that enables flexibility as to how outcomes may be demonstrated.

5.   Centralise administration of a reformed used packaging scheme.

6.   Coordinate and strengthen monitoring and enforcement of a reformed used packaging scheme.

7.   Governments fund the implementation of a reformed used packaging scheme, with ongoing costs associated with the scheme funded by industry.

8.   Governments agree a preferred implementation approach for a reformed used packaging scheme.

9.   While changes are being made to legislation to make the used packaging scheme sustainable into the future, governments take interim actions to reinforce the ongoing expectation that parties who can influence the design, procurement and use of more sustainable packaging will re-design packaging to improve sustainability, optimise recovery and reuse, collaborate across the packaging chain and be accountable for the achievement of outcomes.


APCO has conveyed its support for strong and timely action by governments and industry to implement the recommendations and is now talking with Members and government about next steps to ensure that this is done. The next iteration of the Australian Packaging Covenant Strategic Plan, which APCO is developing for implementation from 1 July 2022, will be a key document elaborating the steps that APCO will take to ensure the recommendations of the NEPM review are given effect.


To read the independent review report, please click here.