Hobart is set to become the nation’s first city banning single-use plastics. The plastic ban was won in a vote ruling an 8-4 majority in favour of the bylaw by the local councillors.
Bill Harvey led the push for the ban. With the aspiration that other councils will follow suit. The ban is in response to the overwhelming plastic crisis. Harvey reported that the implementation of the ban is an effort to improve the waste problem that is a crisis for local councils. Harvey believes the ban would simply mean a phase-out of single-use plastics. As Hobart has a zero waste to landfill policy.
Harvey states that Hobart is “a council that takes the initiative.” With hopes that the decisions of the local council will impact councils around the rest of Australia.
WHAT’S THE BAN ON?
The law seeks to ban petroleum-based plastics. Any retailer selling takeaway food will be required to adhere to the legislation. With throwaway containers, condiment sachets, take away lids, cups & cutlery being prohibited.
Any business selling takeaway plastics will be required to provide compostable, reusable or biodegradable alternatives. On the spot fines of up to 300 dollars will be issued if retailers are found distributing single-use plastics & if prosecuted fines will be issued of up to 1300 dollars.
The director of local government needs to sign off on the bylaw. With the ban set to wrap up in an estimated 6-9 months. It will come into effect in 2020, pending the result of the 21-day consultation.
The majority vote hasn’t evoked a joyous response from all citizens with backlash coming from local businesses. Concerns are raised for the increase in costs associated with providing eco-friendly alternatives affecting profitability.
With the CEO of Tasmanian Small Business Council complaining that there was no consultation with retailers before taking the vote. Robert Mallett believes the ban is going to disadvantage local businesses when competing on the price of the neighbouring cities.
Concerns are raised about the profitability of smaller businesses, which are not able to absorb these cost when compared to take away giants like McDonald’s.
IS IT FAIR FOR EVERYONE?
With some locals agreeing with the ban but raising concerns about the practicality of implementing it. Other locals are embracing the ban, some businesses are already on board following consumers demand to reduce single-use plastics over recent years.
Are consumers or local businesses set to absorb the additional cost of alternatives?
Time will tell. Regardless, how much of a price do we put on our environment?