The Single-use and Other Plastic Products (Waste Avoidance) Bill 2020 (the Bill) was introduced into the South Australian Parliament on 30 April 2020 by Mr D J Speirs MLA, the Minister for the Environment and Water (the Minister). In broad terms, the Bill prohibits the sale, supply and distribution of certain single-use plastic products and establishes a framework for banning other plastic products in the future. The Bill has been introduced to carry out the SA Government’s announcement in July 2019 that it would address the "impacts of single-use plastic products".
The final Bill is the result of an extensive consultation process which included a draft version of the Bill released for public consultation between 14 December 2019 and 7 February 2020 and a "Single-Use Plastics Stakeholder Taskforce". The feedback is said by the Minister to have "helped inform the structure and scope of the current Bill". According to the Minister, the government considered the feedback on the draft legislation it received when finalising the Bill (see aof the submissions received and the government’s response). In his second reading speech the Minister states:
The Bill prohibits the sale, supply or distribution of the following:
Importantly the Bill also prohibits the manufacture, production, sale, supply or distribution of all products made from oxo-degradable plastic, namely, plastic products that have additives which accelerate their breakdown into smaller pieces, which will continue to exist in the environment for a long time, contributing to global micro-plastic pollution, especially in the ocean. According to the Minister in his second reading speech:
In his second reading speech the Minister pointed out that the feedback from the community "suggested a number of other products for government intervention" saying:
The framework proposed by the Minister is a process of public consultation to consider the reasons the product is being recommended for banning, the availability of alternative products, and the potential exemptions that may be required if the product is banned. The process is intended to ensure the impacts on businesses and the community are considered prior to the addition of other products to the banned list.
The Bill contains a provision implementing an exemption that will allow for the sale, supply and distribution of single-use plastic straws to those in the community who rely on them due to disability or medical need. According to the Minister, such an exemption will be implemented by regulations which are to be drafted following the passage of the Bill. Explanatory information has been prepared to help explain the proposed exemption regulations for single-use plastic straws and for other purposes.
The Bill does not prevent members of the community from purchasing single-use plastic drinking straws online, or from bringing their own straws to establishments. There are also other exemptions which include:
The Bill also proposes the ability to exempt a product, or product of a class; or business, or business of a class, from the provisions of the proposed legislation should it be required.
The legislation when passed is to come into operation by proclamation. Once the legislation is commenced single-use plastic drinking straws, cutlery, and drink stirrers will be prohibited from sale, supply or distribution. Then following a transitional period of 12 months, expanded polystyrene cups, bowls, plates and clam-shell containers, and oxo-degradable plastic products will also be prohibited. In his second reading speech the Minister states regarding the timing and transition to products being banned:
Other governments around Australia (for example, Queensland) have also indicated they are looking to tackle the issues around single-use plastic products. National initiatives are also underway, including actions under the National Waste Policy and response strategies to support the implementation of export bans agreed to by the Council of Australian Governments.
According to the Minister in his second reading speech:
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Single-use and Other Plastic Products (Waste Avoidance) Bill 2020 (45 of 2020) [SA], second reading speech and explanatory material available from TimeBase's LawOne Services.
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