QLD Passes Bill Banning Plastic Bags, Introduces Beverage Container Recycling Scheme

Thursday 7 September 2017 @ 12.10 p.m. | Legal Research

The Queensland Parliament has passed the Waste Reduction and Recycling Amendment Bill 2017, which will see a ban on plastic shopping bags and a beverage container refund scheme introduced into the state in July 2018.  The Bill, which was introduced in June this year, passed with bipartisan support through the Legislative Assembly.

Environment Minister Steven Miles told ABC News:

“By passing this bill we say to our young people that we value our wildlife, especially our marine creatures like turtles, sea birds and dugongs.

An estimated 2.4 billion beverage containers and 1 billion lightweight plastic shopping bags are used in Queensland every year … these are ending up in our waterways and killing and maiming our native animals.”

Queensland opposition environment spokesman Christian Rowan also told ABC News:

“This is an important initiative for our environment, for conservation, for community organisations, for waste reduction and recycling and for jobs here in Queensland.”

Plastic Bag Ban

The Bill will insert a new Part 3A, “Banned plastic shopping bags” into the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011 (Qld).  Retailers will not be allowed to provide their customers with plastic shopping bags, whether or not they charge for the bag.  The bag ban also includes biodegradable shopping bags, which are exempt in other states and territories.  Retailers will be able to charge for “alternative shopping bags” which do not meet the criteria for a banned plastic bag.  Retailers will be subject to penalties of up to 50 penalty units (a $6,300 fine) for giving out plastic bags or for giving false or misleading information about banned plastic shopping bags.

Beverage Container Refund Scheme

The Container Refund Scheme will be similar to the schemes currently in place in South Australia, the Northern Territory and underway in New South Wales, with the value of the refund being set at 10 cents.  Queensland are using a “product stewardship” approach, with manufacturers held as being responsible for managing the impact of their products.

In his Explanatory Speech, Mr Miles said:

“The bill also provides that individual beverage manufacturers have obligations under the scheme. The primary obligation is to ensure that beverage manufacturers contribute to the cost of the scheme. In order to fulfil this obligation, a beverage manufacturer must enter into a container recovery agreement with the product responsibility organisation that outlines their responsibilities. Failure to meet their obligations would ultimately prevent a beverage manufacturer from selling their product in Queensland.”

The Bill, which was amended in Parliament, is currently awaiting assent.

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Waste Reduction and Recycling Amendment Bill 2017 (QLD), Explanatory Notes and Explanatory Speech - available from TimeBase's LawOne service

Plastic bag ban in Queensland gets green light as cash-for-cans scheme introduced (Gail Burke, ABC News, 06/07/2017)

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