Single-use plastic items including straws, cutlery and plates will be banned in Victoria by 2023 in a bid to reduce the amount of plastic waste going into landfill.
Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said the government was focusing on those particular single-use items because there were alternatives available.
“This is about taking a gradual step towards addressing plastics in our environment,” she said.
“We believe that these are the easiest items that have substitutes available right now.”
State government departments and agencies will stop using specific single-use plastics by February 2022.
The ban will then apply to all cafes, restaurants and organisations in Victoria by 2023.
Ms D’Ambrosio said the government would consult industry associations, businesses and the community to help them transition to the new rules.
She also said the government would conduct a formal regulatory impact statement process to help identify alternatives to the banned items.
Cotton buds with plastic sticks will also be prohibited.
“The transition process will include full consultation about how … we make sure that these items cease to be supplied and sold in Victoria,” she said.
“Included of course in that transition will be consultations about what are the suitable alternative items that can be used in Victoria, and at some point in the future, we’ll be looking at how we give effect to this ban.
“We’ve got almost two years to get this done and get it right.”
The government will work with the aged care and disability sectors to make sure there are exemptions for people who need to use single-use plastics such as straws.
Emergency services, or medical or scientific activities that require single-use plastics for health and safety reasons will not be affected by the ban, the government said.
Ms D’Ambrosio said many businesses and government bodies had already started phasing out certain items due to consumer demand.
The Minister said other single-use plastics could be banned down the track, but said for now the government was focusing on specific items.
“There is a willingness there across individuals, families, businesses and the broader community to get this done,” she said.