Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales (NSW), will outlaw single-use plastics, including straws, cutlery, and microbeads in shampoo to reduce waste. According to a proposed “five-year roadmap,” Queensland will also ban several of these products, including heavyweight plastic shopping bags, starting in September 2023. From February 1, 2023, Victoria will take action and ban “problematic single-use plastics from sale or supply.” Although the rate of legislative reform may be impressive, Australia still has a long way to go in its efforts to control its plastic waste problem. “[…] Across the board, Australia’s plastic packaging recycling rate is still just 16%. Our national target is 70%,” Shane Cucow, the plastics campaign manager at the Australian Marine Conservation Society, says. Australia was ranked seventh among 25 countries in a comparison of the management of plastic waste for its overall efforts to reduce plastic pollution.

New South Wales’ environment minister, James Griffin, claimed that the state’s bans would “prevent 2.7 billion items of plastic litter from entering the environment over the next 20 years”. NSW banned thin plastic bags in June. Expanded polystyrene take-out food containers, single-use plastic drink stirrers, cotton buds, and other goods are also prohibited as of November 1 this year. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) announced some encouraging news in the same month, noting a 29% decline in plastic pollution along the coast since 2013. Britta Denise Hardesty, a senior principal research scientist in its Oceans and Atmosphere unit, notes a “really big shift” in state government procedures, including buy-back or cash-for-containers programs that compensate people for recycling bottles and other goods.