South Australia will push ahead with a ban on some single-use plastics including straws and cutlery, after the implementation was put on hold because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The SA government had originally intended to stop sales of the products by the middle of this year, but the policy was delayed to allow restaurants and cafes to continue using disposable items to improve hygiene amid the pandemic.
The ban will now come into place on March 1, 2021, making the state the first in the country to ban the products which also include drink stirrers.
Environment Minister David Speirs announced the date on Wednesday morning, along with an education campaign called Replace the Waste.
Mr Speirs said businesses that did not give up single-use plastics would be held accountable.
“Fines will be in place from March 1, 2021 for businesses that don’t comply,” he said.
“We have given businesses an appropriate level of transition. They have known this was coming.”
Mr Speirs said there would be exemptions for medical purposes, such as for people who have difficulty swallowing, but they may have to buy straws at pharmacies rather than major retail outlets.
“It won’t be difficult to obtain straws if you’ve got a particular reason for them,” he said.
“We might not see straws in the same way on supermarket shelves, but if people are using straws to overcome a health challenge, [the straws] are likely actually to have longer-lasting, more permanent material on them.”
The state date announcement was made at the Central Market’s House of Health Collective, which the government said was the first CBD business to officially become free of single-use plastics.
Business co-owner Chester Frank said his customers enjoyed bringing their own jars and other containers.
However, for some other businesses, Mr Frank said it would be a big change.
“For businesses like us, it’s a natural progression, but other businesses that are not so inclined in this sort of space might see it as a little bit of a push,” he said.
“But, ultimately, it’s Mother Nature, it’s the environment at stake here, so I really don’t think they have a choice – I think it’s a good move.”
Polystyrene cups, bowls and plates will be banned in 2022.
The government said it would consider extending the policy to plastic bags and coffee cups, subject to further consultation.
Non-biodegradable single-use plastic bags have been absent from South Australian supermarket checkouts for about a decade, with consumers charged a small amount for reusable bags.