Putting the lid on plastic in SA

BANS TO COME: Cafe Melzar owner Joe Case said coffee cups are one of the last items in the cafe they need to switch. Pictures: MELANIE RILEY.

Melanie Riley

FURTHER bans on single-use plastics will come into effect in South Australia in the coming months.

In a move to continue with the bans implemented from 2021 under the state’s Single-use and Other Plastic Products (Waste Avoidance) Act 2020, the new bans will come into effect from September 2024.

The upcoming bans from September 1, 2024 include plastic barrier bags, thick supermarket or boutique-style plastic bags and single-use plastic food containers.

In addition, there will be several items phased out, other expanded polystyrene (EPS) consumer food and beverage containers in the market (e.g. gelato tubs), EPS trays used for meat, fruit and other food items for retail sale, plastic confetti, plastic balloon sticks/ties and plastic bread tags.

Bans already implemented in South Australia include:

Single-use plastic straws, cutlery and stirrers – banned in 2021.

Expanded polystyrene cups, bowls, plates and clamshell containers – banned in 2022.

Plastic-stemmed cotton buds, single-use plastic bowls and plates, plastic pizza savers – banned in 2023.

Cafe Melzar owner Joe Case has already implemented environmentally friendly changes within the cafe, and the last switch will be their coffee cups.

“Everything else we’ve switched over. We already do wooden cutlery and paper straws,” he said.

The cups we currently use are not compostable, although we have used compostable lids in the past.”

Due to the customised printing on the cups, the process to have them redesigned and printed is costly, so Mr Case said he made the decision early on to use non-compostable cups to save some cost.

He said, however, he is confident the cafe would be able to implement the new changes required without too much hassle.

“We’ve got enough options and the suppliers have enough information for us,” he said.

“It’s just a matter of putting it in place at some point, sooner rather than later.

“But it is what it is.”

The cafe has already moved away from all-plastic containers for takeaways and work hard to use any plastic they do use mindfully.

“Our takeaway containers are all cardboard, no plastics, unless it’s a salad but that’s got a cardboard base and a biodegradable plastic lid,” Mr Case said.

“A few of our containers we use in-house are still plastic – prep containers and storage – which we get multiple uses out of anyway.”

He said while he understood the reasoning behind the bans, he believed there were more important things to focus on.

“I’m not against it, it’s just another cost to some places but in the current financial situation, it will be hard,” he said.

“A lot of places have got enough on their plate without dealing with that as well.

“I don’t disagree with it, but I think there’s other things to be worried about before that.

“Overall, I don’t think the price increase will be huge, but if they want to push all of this, they have to make it affordable.”

There will be further bans implemented in September 2025, including plastic fruit stickers, plastic soy sauce fish, and pre-packaged and attached products.

A list of alternative products is available online at https://www.replacethewaste.sa.gov.au/alternatives.