Plastic surgery: Speirs calls for ban on single-use items
At least 8 million tonnes of plastic ends up in the world’s oceans each year with projections for plastics to outnumber fish by 2050 if current trends continue.
“Plastic is a valuable material integral to modern life but, when littered, it ruins our environment’s pristine image, and harms marine and terrestrial life,” Mr Speirs said.
Public consultation on the paper, Turning the tide on single-use plastic products, closes on February 22 and Mr Speirs is set to take action if South Australians are on board.
Mr Speirs told the Sunday Mail that SA had traditionally led the nation in recycling and did not want the state to stagnate under his watch. SA is this year celebrating the 10-year anniversary of its plastic shopping bag ban.
“I think that’s where the public sentiment is – the thicker plastic bags, the straws and plastic-lined coffee cups are the sorts of things we want to take to South Australians and ask whether they want them to be part of life in SA or not,” he said.
“We’re looking at doing something here and looking at banning items if there is a public appetite to do so.
“I do think we will be moving in that direction; I do think the community wants that. I do think there is that public support and I’m keen to provide the leadership to get there.”
Further analysis on the economic and community effects of recommendations will be taken before the State Government takes any further steps, Mr Speirs said.
South Australians use about 255 million plastic straws and up to 210 million plastic-lined takeaway coffee cups each year, based on population estimates. Mr Speirs said action on single-use plastics was needed both to reduce the amount of plastics going into landfill and also to stop products from littering our parks, oceans and reserves.
Commonly littered singleuse plastic items include confectionary wrappers, takeaway coffee cups and lids, straws, drink stirrers, soft drink bottles, cotton bud sticks, cigarette butts, food packaging and plastic bags.
“SA is a national recycling leader but the amount of waste we create continues to increase every year,” he said.
“We want to use this to increase recycling but we want to avoid use in the first place.”
Public consultation on a second discussion paper, focusing on the container deposit scheme, also closes on February 22.
Action on single-use plastics has been taken around the world as concern grows about the amount of waste flooding into oceans, at a rate of a full garbage truck every minute.
France became the first country to announce a national ban on single-use plastics in 2016 with businesses prohibited from selling plastic cups and plates from next year.
The European Union last year announced its plan to ban numerous single-use plastics, including straws, cutlery, cotton buds and balloon sticks.
Bans on certain single-use items have already been implemented in three US cities, while a ban came into place in the Indian capital, New Delhi, in 2017.