Single-use plastic ban and plastic alternatives
From 1 September 2021, the Queensland Government introduced a ban on a number of single-use plastic items including single-use straws, stirrers, plates, bowls, cutlery, and expanded polystyrene takeaway food containers and cups.
Similar bans on single-use plastic items exist or have been pledged in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, New South Wales, and the Australian Capital Territory.
Plastic alternatives and how to dispose of them
As we move away from single-use materials, a wide range of alternative materials is now available. Many of these materials are labelled - biodegradable, compostable, recyclable - and it can be confusing to know how to dispose of them.
Knowing the differences between these materials, and which bin to put them in, will continue to support our collective efforts to reduce waste to landfill, and reduce contamination in our kerbside bins.
Biodegradable products are usually made from plastic with chemicals added, causing them to break down into smaller pieces. This can lead to micro-plastics being released into the environment, and residents are encouraged to avoid packaging marked as 'biodegradable'.
Items labelled 'biodegradable' are not recyclable and must be placed in your general waste bin (red lid).
There are two types of compostable packaging or serveware:
- home compostable
- industrial compostable.
Home compostable materials refer to packaging that has been certified to Australian Standard - AS5810: Biodegradable plastics suitable for home composting.
There are three ways to dispose of home compostable products.
- Home composting bin or worm farm.
- At your local community composting hub (compostable bags are not accepted).
- General waste bin.
Compostable products are sometimes labelled bio-plastics or eco-plastics. For an item to be called compostable, it must be certified to the Australian Standard - AS4736: 2006 Biodegradable plastics suitable for composting and other microbial treatment.
HIgh temperature and specific conditions are needed to decompose bio-plastic items.
There are two ways to dispose of bio-plastic products.
- Industrial and commercial-scale composting facilities.
- General waste bin.
How to dispose of reusable products
Use the table below to help guide you on the correct disposal of reusable products.
|Material type||Disposal option|
|Wooden, bamboo, and leaf products||
|Reusable hard plastic||
|Paper plates and cups||Recycle bin (yellow lid)|
|Bio-plastics (sugar cane or cornstarch)||General waste bin (red lid)|
|Metal cutlery and camping serve ware||
Making more sustainable choices
While compostable materials will eventually break down in a home or industrial composting facility, they are a single-use product requiring resources to manufacture and transport, which contributes to carbon emissions. There is currently no collection system for residential/industrial compostable items, meaning the majority will end up in landfill.
For more information on the ban, refer to the Queensland Government website.
Businesses looking for further information can also refer to the following websites: