Single-use plastic ban expanded in Canberra to include major sporting and music events

Canberra’s single-use plastic ban is being extended, with major events at Canberra Stadium and Manuka Oval now plastic-free.

Last year, the ACT introduced a territory-wide ban on single-use plastic cutlery, stirrers, and Styrofoam takeaway food and drink containers as part of the Reduce Plastics Act of 2021.

In November, the government also pledged to remove single-use plastics from events it hosts, including Australia Day in the capital, the Royal Canberra Show and the Enlighten Festival.

Food vendors will now be banned from using plastic bowls, plates, containers and straws at music festivals, including the National Folk Festival and Groovin the Moo, as well as sporting events.

“We are very supportive and look forward to working with GIO Stadium Canberra on initiatives that minimize environmental impact.”

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Mia Swainston from the Canberra Environment Center on avoiding plastics at events.
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The ACT government has set a goal of diverting 90 per cent of the territory’s waste from landfill by 2025, and the Reduce Plastics Act plays a key role in achieving this.

Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel said the extension of the plastic ban was “another big step” in making Canberra more sustainable.

“Canberrans have shown great support for phasing out single-use plastics, and we are now working to identify more items to add to the list,” he said.

“Food vendors operating NRL and Super Rugby matches at the GIO Stadium, AFL and cricket matches at Manuka Oval will now stop using single-use plastic items such as plastic bowls, plates, drinking straws, etc. single-use plastic and takeout containers, swapping with items made from materials like stiff cardboard or sugarcane mulch.

But for those of us who have no practice of attending events, let alone going plastic-free, Mia Swainston of the Canberra Environment Center said it all came down to planning.

Colorful illustration of a black woman with pink hair and a white man reading on a picnic rug, with a dog running around
Carrying a picnic basket with your own cutlery inside is an easy way to reduce plastic waste.(ABC Arts: Michelle Pereira)

“If you want to go one step further and not take the bamboo cutlery [provided] absolutely… you can bring your own cutlery when you leave,” he said.

“Think about bringing your own picnic basket from time to time.

Ms. Swainston said she hopes Canberrans take the transition to plastic-free events in stride.

“I think as a consumer it will be relatively straightforward because there are so many non-plastic alternatives,” he said.

“Part of the transition back to what is not an emergency situation, but how we live now with COVID, will be bringing Keep Cups back and also reducing the amount of single-use plastic.”

In fact, the ACT government’s plastic ban may not end here; The consultation to expand the list of prohibited items is already underway.

Items that could be banned as of July 1, 2022 include single-use plastic straws (with exceptions for those who need them); single use plastic bags for fruit and vegetables; and all oxo-degradable plastic products, including degradable plastics and dog waste bags.

Cotton swabs with plastic sticks could also be banned.

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