Main photo: Flatback Turtle. Photo Department of Environment and Science)

Australia’s leading ocean conservation group has welcomed the commencement of Queensland’s ban on single-use plastic, congratulating the state government for tackling the plastic pollution crisis at the source.

As of 1 September, single-use plastic straws, drink stirrers, cutlery, plates, bowls and polystyrene food service items are banned in the state. Queensland is the first state to ban single-use plastic plates and bowls. 

Queensland joins South Australia and the ACT as jurisdictions with active bans on single-use plastics. Western Australia’s ban is due to commence at the end of the year.

Further products will be considered for prohibition in coming years, including coffee cups, takeaway food containers and heavyweight plastic bags.

The Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) has heralded today as the beginning of a new plastic free era in the sunshine state.

“From today, Queensland’s beautiful coasts and oceans will be a little bit safer for our turtles, whales and seabirds,” said Shane Cucow, Plastics Campaign Manager at the AMCS.

“By cracking down on unrecyclable plastics like straws and cutlery, commonly found in waterways, the Queensland government is stopping this problem at the source.

“Critically, Queensland is the first state to outlaw single-use plastic plates and bowls, stepping ahead of jurisdictions like South Australia and the ACT.

“Earlier this year, we saw sickening reports of dead and sick baby turtles washing up on Queensland beaches after swallowing plastic. 

“Sharp, highly likely to be contaminated and commonly found in waterways, throwaway plastics like straws and cutlery cause serious injuries. They get stuck in airways and cause painful internal injuries when eaten.

Mr Cucow said it was important the laws were quickly expanded to ban other plastics lethal to wildlife, including heavyweight plastic bags, plastic cups, fruit and veggie bags, plastic takeaway containers and balloons.

“We’re happy to hear the Palaszczuk government will be moving quickly to begin consultation on the next plastics to be prohibited in Queensland. 

“With states like Western Australia banning plastic cups, thick plastic shopping bags, takeaway coffee cups, and helium balloon releases, the race to end wasteful plastic is heating up.”

Mr Cucow also said that it was time for the remaining states to catch up.

“Only Tasmania and the Northern Territory have no timeline for banning single-use plastics, yet these jurisdictions are disproportionately feeling the pain of plastic pollution on their beaches. 

“Every day we wait, we lose more animal lives. With earth friendly alternatives now widely available, it’s time to ditch these killer plastics throughout all of Australia,” he said.