Single-use plastic items have been given their marching orders in Victoria, with the government announcing a ban on several common single-use plastic products. By 2023, single-use plastic straws, cutlery, plates, drink stirrers, cotton bud tips and polystyrene food and drink containers will be banned across Victoria in all cafés, restaurants and organisations. Already, government-owned attractions like the NGV, Melbourne Museum and Melbourne Zoo have started replacing single-use plastic items with sustainable alternatives.
Importantly, there will be discussions between the government and the aged care and disability sectors to ensure Victorians who actually require single-use plastics can be granted exemptions. Nor does the ban affect medical, scientific or emergency services where single-use plastic is a matter of health and safety.
On average, every single Victorian puts 68kg of plastic waste into landfill every year and single-use plastic waste makes up a third of the litter found in our streets and waterways. Apart from taking generations to breakdown (a single plastic straw can take up to 200 years and releases harmful microplastics into the environment in the process).
Like with Victoria's ban on lightweight plastic bags, there are lots of alternatives to the soon-to-be-banned single-use plastics. Plastic cutlery can be replaced by bringing your own set (or venues can opt for compostable wooden cutlery); plastic straws can be swapped for silicone, metal or paper alternatives (or consider if you really need a straw at all); and cotton tips now also come in washable, reusable silicon varieties (which are also cheaper in the long run).
Find out more about the ban via the Victorian government website.