The Plastic Reduction and Circular Economy Act 2021 (NSW) which commenced on 29 November 2021 is aimed at reducing waste generation from harmful plastics into the environment.
Matt Kean, the Treasurer and Minister for Energy and Environment, said single-use plastics and plastic packaging make up 60 per cent of litter in NSW. He further stated 10 per cent of the plastic litter are recycled while the remaining 50 per cent end up on the street, landfill, and waterways.
The Plastic Reduction and Circular Economy Bill 2021 (NSW) was introduced to the legislative assembly on 19 October 2021 and was approved by the legislative councils and assembly as the first stage outlined in the NSW Plastics Action Plan. Some of the objects of the Act are to protect the environment and human health by reducing the potential impact from wastes, and to support material circularity through design, production, use, re-use, collection, recycling, reprocessing and end-of life management. The Act makes it an offense for the supply of prohibited items by a person or a business.
Prohibited plastic items for the purpose of this Act are described as items that are problematic for the environment or has shown difficulties in collecting or recycling such items. An item may also be described as prohibited because it has failed to comply with the design standards as prescribed by the Minister such as the use of microbeads in cosmetic products. For specifics, lightweight plastic bags, single use plastic straws, cutleries, cotton buds, and expanded polystyrene food service items are all regarded as prohibited items and will be phased out by November 2022 in NSW.