Western Australia has reclaimed the top spot on WWF-Australia’s new plastics scorecard, while Tasmania and the Northern Territory continue to lag behind in tackling plastic pollution.
The 2021 scorecard, produced by WWF-Australia for Plastic Free July, rates the performance of states and territories in addressing the most problematic single-use plastics.
Western Australia was the big winner in this year’s scorecard, edging back ahead of Queensland to claim outright first place.
The WA Government recently announced it would fast-track its plastics plan by four years, phasing out single-use plastic bowls, cups, plates, cutlery, straws, polystyrene food containers, thick plastic bags and helium balloon releases by the end of this year.
It also became the first state to take action on plastic coffee cups and lids, adding them to the list of items to be banned by the end of 2022.
“It’s wonderful to see WA leading the race to phase out some of the most harmful and littered plastics on our beautiful beaches,” said Kate Noble, WWF-Australia’s No Plastics in Nature Policy Manager.
“We discard about a billion plastic coffee cups in Australia every year and many of these end up in landfill or our oceans where they can do damage for hundreds of years.
“Australia has to tackle this needless mountain of waste, so we hope WA’s commitment will inspire other states to take action.”
Queensland held onto second place on the scorecard, closely followed by the ACT in third and South Australia in fourth. Each government has introduced legislation to ban plastic plates, cutlery, straws and polystyrene food containers.
The first phase of the ACT's single-use plastic ban came into effect this month, meaning plastic cutlery and expanded polystyrene takeaway food and beverage containers cannot be supplied or sold.
Previous cellar dwellers NSW and Victoria have also made progress since the scorecard launched in 2019.
NSW climbed ahead of Victoria into fifth place thanks to the announcement of its long-awaited plan to phase out lightweight plastic bags, cotton-buds, expanded polystyrene foodware, straws, stirrers and single-use cutlery by 2022.
Northern Territory continues to lag behind in seventh, while Tasmania claimed the dubious honour of last place on the scorecard for the second year in a row.
“It’s time for Tassie to catch up and take action on some of the worst single-use plastics, such as straws, utensils, plates and polystyrene food containers. There are sustainable alternatives to these items so there’s no excuse for delay,” said Ms Noble.
“Our precious oceans and marine wildlife cannot afford to wait any longer.”
Ms Noble said the 2021 scorecard had been expanded to include other problematic plastics, such as polystyrene foodware, heavy-weight plastic bags and cotton buds.
“There’s been fantastic progress since the scorecard launched in 2019, so we have refreshed it to include other items that harm our natural environment and wildlife,” she said.
People can show their support for a ban on the 10 worst single-use plastics here: https://www.wwf.org.au/get-involved/plastics