The Queensland Government is moving to remove all single-use plastic straws, plates, and cutlery from the State by July next year, and may extend the proposed ban out to plastic takeaway containers and unrecyclable coffee cups as well.

Yesterday, the Palaszczuk Government introduced legislation that makes Queensland the second Australian state to float such a hard-lined ban on single-use plastics, following South Australia pushing similar legislation in July of last year.

If passed, the laws would outlaw the use of single-use plastics across the state, including things like coffee stirrers and cutlery, by July 1 2021 at the absolute earliest.

The legislation also includes scope to extend the ban out to coffee cups, polystyrene cops, plastic takeaway containers, and others. Crucially, the legislation allows exceptions for people living with disabilities or medical requirements who will still be able to access plastic straws when needed. It also permits pharmacies, schools, and care facilities to make plastic straws available to people who require them.

The legislation has been introduced by the State Government in a bid to combat the impact single-use plastic items has on Queensland’s delicate marine wildlife and ecosystems. Through a public consultation period conducted in March, the Government found that 94% of Queenslanders stood in favour of a single-use plastics ban.

Queensland’s legislation heralds the start of what’s expected to be multiple jurisdictions following suit. Similar legislation is due in the ACT at some point this year, while Western Australia and New South Wales have completed their own public consultation processes.

Australian Marine Conservation Society spokesperson¬†Shane Cucow¬†spoke to The Guardian yesterday, asserting “Plastic straws and cutlery are among the most lethal plastics for wildlife like seabirds and turtles. Sharp, highly likely to be contaminated and commonly found in waterways, these plastics can cause serious injuries. They get stuck in airways and cause painful internal injuries and poisoning when eaten.”

The legislation must now pass through a committee consultation process. If it passes that, it will then be tabled in State Parliament.

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