Draft Victoria Regulations Propose Ban on Single-Use Plastic Items
Monday 23 May 2022 @ 1.34 p.m. | Legal Research
On 14 April 2022, public consultation opened on the draft Environment Protection Amendment (Banning Single-Use Plastic Items) Regulations 2022 (Vic) (“the Draft Regulations”).
Consultation on the Draft Regulations are no longer open.
The Draft Regulations proposes the banning of the sale, supply, distribution or provision certain single-use plastic items.
The ban proposed by the Draft Regulations would affect single-use plastic items such as:
- drinking straws;
- drink stirrers;
- expanded polystyrene food and drink containers; and
- cotton bud sticks.
The Draft Regulations builds on the government’s previous ban of single-use plastic bags, which took effect back on 1 November 2019. The proposed changes are part of the Victorian Government’s commitment to delivering its 10-year circular economy policy and action plan, Recycling Victoria: A New Economy.
Key Objectives of the Draft Regulations
In addition to polluting the environment, single-use plastics are considered problematic because of their impact on human health, our resources and amenities, and even the tourism industry. The RIS elaborates that due to the size and short life-span of these types of plastic items, they are generally not disposed of correctly and cannot be properly sorted or processed by recycling machines.
The RIS also states that:
“Globally, it is estimated 8 to 12.7 million tonnes of plastic enter oceans each year – the equivalent of dumping a garbage truck of plastic into the ocean every minute. Of that plastic, [single-use plastic] straws, stirrers, cutlery, cups and cotton bud sticks are globally amongst the top ten most prevalent little items in freshwater systems and oceans. Without action, the quantity of plastic litter entering aquatic ecosystems is projected to double by 2030, and triple by 2040."
In light of these concerns, the overarching objectives of the Draft Regulations, as summarised in the RIS, are to:
- reduce plastic littering and pollution;
- reduce the amount of the plastic waste going to landfill; and
- reduce contamination of recycling streams.
Overview of Draft Regulations
The Draft Regulations proposes a new Part 5.5 to the Environment Protection Regulations 2021 (Vic). The proposed Part 5.5 would ban single-use plastic items, which are defined in the Draft Regulations as being items “wholly or partly comprised of plastic, whether or not that plastic is biodegradable, degradable or compostable”.
Notably, some single-use plastic items are exempted from the proposed ban. Items that are exempted include:
- paper or cardboard plates lined with any plastic;
- single-use plastic drinking straws that are used or intended to be used by a designated person;
- single use plastic cotton bud sticks used or intended to be used testing carried out for scientific, medical, forensic or law enforcement purposes; and
- single-use plastic cutlery used or intended to be used by a correctional, mental health, police, or youth justice facility for health and safety purposes.
The proposed reforms also seek to make integrated items exempt until 31 December 2025. Integrated items are plastic items that are attached to or included within certain products, for example, plastic straws attached to juice boxes. The proposed delay in banning these items aims to allow manufacturers adequate time to find alternative packaging and change manufacturing processes.
The Draft Regulations proposes penalties of a fine of up to $10,904.40, with corporations to potentially face fines of up to $54,522.
If successfully introduced and passed, the Draft Regulations are expected to come into operation on 1 February 2023 (see cl 3 of the Draft Regulations).
TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.
Draft Environment Protection Amendment (Banning Single-Use Plastic Items) Regulations 2022 (VIC) and additional explanatory material available from TimeBase’s LawOne Service