Queensland takes South Australia's single use plastics ban which came into force on 1 March, 2021, a step further. SA has banned the sale, supply and distribution of drinking straws, stirrers and cutlery with expanded polystyrene cups, bowls, plates and clam-shell containers, and oxo-degradable plastic products to be banned in a years’ time.
Like other countries around the world, there are exemptions in place for disabled people and those with medical conditions who require plastic straws, for everyone else, the plastic party is over. (Prescribed businesses including pharmacies, charities, and medical, dental and care facilities are able to sell and supply packs of straws for these purposes. Bars and cafes cannot supply plastic straws even if a customer requests one.)
According to Clean Up Australia, Australians use 3.5 billion straws a year and are the 12th most common item picked up by their Clean Up Crews.
Bioplastics, like PLA (Polylactic Acid), that can be labelled compostable, are also banned as these can only be composted under strict industrial conditions - generally in industrial facilities that are not readily accessible to the general public. Plastics labelling can be confusing and now also illegal.
While food wrappers and containers account for about 31 percent of all plastic pollution; plastic bottles and container caps 15.5 percent; plastic bags 11.2 percent; plastic straws and stirrers are at 8.1 percent. The problem with straws is that they a small, light and stick-y and that makes them destructive.
Straws are mostly not recycled and often end up in landfill - or worse, pretty much anywhere that a human has been sipping a drink through one. Beaches, parks, clubs. They are small and lightweight and eminently transportable. They are also colourful and attractive to wildlife. None of that ends well.
There are literally thousands of optional alternatives to single use plastics - and most are way more satisfying to use and aesthetically pleasing!