Plastic coffee cups next ban target
SINGLE-use plastics like coffee cups, straws and balloons could be banned by 2023 under the recommendations of a parliamentary committee.
The major report into recycling also recommends a national container deposit scheme - similar to South Australia's program - to tackle Australia's growing waste woes.
Committee chair Peter Whish-Wilson said the report had support from across the parliament to tackle a crisis in the recycling industry.
"Australians are good recyclers, but they've been let down by local, state and federal governments," the Greens senator told parliament.
"Had we implemented this plan nearly 10 years ago in 2009 we wouldn't be in the crisis that we're in now."
The report recommends the federal government work with the states to put less rubbish in landfill and improve the quality of recycling.
The Commonwealth would also set mandatory targets for government departments around recycled materials while pursuing sustainable procurement policies. The phase-out of petroleum-based plastics by 2023 could include takeaway containers, plastic bags and chip packets.
"It's not going to happen straight away, but we absolutely need to commit to it and put in place a plan," Senator Whish-Wilson said.
He said the report's tri-partisan support was rare, with the coalition and Labor on board.
The recommendation comes after Woolworths announced it was considering allowing shoppers to bring their own containers into stores to use when purchasing meat and deli products.
While they said it's not something they can currently offer, they are "always looking at new ways to help customers reduce plastic consumption".
However, competitor Coles has slammed the idea saying it may increase the risk of food contamination.
"Coles does not allow customers to bring in their own containers to use as it poses a health and safety risk," a spokeswoman said.
Both supermarkets are ditching single-use plastic bags (Woolworths did so on June 20 and Coles will follow from July 1) and have pledged to reduce the amount of plastic wrapping on fresh fruit and vegetables, as well.
"The single use plastic bag ban is a positive step to try and reduce resources," Trevor Thornton, a lecturer in hazardous materials management at Deakin University, told News Corp, but warned people needed to "use reusable bags wisely".
In 2007, prior to any bans, Australians used four billion single use plastic bags annually.
People are being encouraged to participate in "Plastic Free July" an global movement that aims to "dramatically reduce plastic use" worldwide.