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Hobart City Council going further to phase out plastic

Date: 17-Aug-17
Author: Elise Catterall

Despite plastic bag bans there are still a lot of single use plastic items out there - Hobart Council is working to cut back on them ©

Despite plastic bag bans there are still a lot of single use plastic items out there - Hobart Council is working to cut back on them

After bringing in plastic shopping bag laws in 2013, Hobart City Council is now taking bigger steps to phase out single use plastics, this time by drafting laws to ban plastic food and beverage containers and utensils.

Hobart City Council has taken the nation-first step of voting to eliminate the use of single-use, petroleum-based plastic containers and utensils by 2020. 

The amended draft bylaw extends the existing Plastic Shopping Ban Act, introduced in 2013, which bans Tasmanian retailers from providing lightweight plastic shopping bags.  With this new ban, the existing shopping bag ban and moves by some Hobart restaurants and food outlets to remove plastic straws, the city is moving ever closer to being plastic free – and is the first Australian city to take these steps. 

Hobart City Council’s over-arching strategy of ‘Zero Waste to Landfill’ is driving these steps and their greater ambitions of establishing compost systems for commercial outlets. The council also plans to lobby the Tasmanian State Government so that Hobart’s positive environmental actions can be implemented state-wide.

Greens Alderman Bill Harvey said, “We’ve taken a really responsible approach to both litter management and reducing landfill, so it’s really exciting to be part of a council that’s leading the nation.” 

While this move is ground-breaking for an Australian city, in other parts of the country and the world, steps also are being taken towards removing plastics.  In Cairns, a busy city café has banned plastic cups and straws in an effort to reduce waste going to landfill, while on the Sunshine coast, there is lobbying afoot to ban not just shopping bags, straws and cups, but also helium balloons and bait bags, both of which regularly find their way into water systems.

Further abroad, France has taken similar steps to Hobart by instituting a ban on plastic crockery and cutlery to be in place by 2020, and Oxford and New York have both recently introduced bans on non-recyclable food containers.

Back in Hobart, while the ban has reportedly been met with broad public support, it hasn’t entirely been welcomed with open arms.  Some retailers have expressed concern at the impact these changes will have on their bottom line and concern that the move to ban single use plastics, which directly impacts food retailers, was undertaken without consulting them.  The council has emphasised that, throughout the process of determining the specifics of the change, there will be public consultation.  As community support is a necessary precondition for this type of change to be successful, consultation will be important.

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Elise                                             Catterall
Author: Elise Catterall

Elise is a writer, photographer, and naturopath with a passion for nature. She completed a Master of Public Health in 2017 through the University of Sydney. Her photographic work focuses on flowers and plants as a way of celebrating nature. She has been writing for Planet Ark since 2017, sharing positive environment stories, personal environmental experiences and perspectives.

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