Takeaway coffee cups and lids banned in WA

Takeaway coffee cups and lids are now banned in Western Australia.

Takeaway coffee cups and lids are now banned in Western Australia. Photo: Getty

The first ban on takeaway plastic coffee cups and lids in Australia has been enforced and now, businesses that don’t comply can be slapped with a hefty fine.

Western Australia has become the first jurisdiction in the nation to ban the takeaway cups, as part of its Plan for Plastics, which began in 2021.

The single-use plastic coffee cups were on the list of Stage Two items to get the axe for the sake of the environment.

Stage two of the plan came into effect on February 27, 2023.

The items on the list are being phased out from September 2023 until July 2025.

The ban on coffee cups started on March 1 and from now on, cafes will need to use compostable paperboard cups or encourage customers to bring their own reusable cups.

WA Environment Minister Reece Whitby said the move was “excellent” for the environment, due to plastic remaining in the environment for decades on end.

Also banned on Friday were unlidded disposable plastic food trays, such as sushi trays and bento boxes.

Whitby said more than a billion single-use plastic items, including more than 154 million coffee cups, will be saved from landfill annually in the state thanks to the bans.

pictured are coffee cups in the bin

Coffee cups are one of the most-found items during clean ups.

Why coffee cups?

Western Australia has already banned plastic items such as microbeads, cotton bud sticks, lightweight and heavyweight carry bags and single-use cutlery.

The coffee cup ban comes after a 12-month consultation period with businesses, and the state government said businesses were largely supportive and many had already made more environmentally friendly changes.

It hopes to keep the community onside by easing the bans in with a “common sense” approach to enforcement.

“It’s all about education,” Whitby said.

“We’re allowing cafes that might have old stocks of compostable coffee cups to trade them out.”

However, for those who continually flout the restrictions, there are fines of up to $5000 for individuals or $25,000 for businesses.

In the 2023 financial year, Clean Up Australia volunteers picked up 13,000 takeaway coffee cups, making them among the 10 most common rubbish items in the country.

Increased social activity in the aftermath of COVID-19 likely contributed to the rise in coffee cup waste, Clean Up Australia Day said in its annual Litter Report.

How other states are combatting plastic

South Australia was the first Australian state to get rid of plastic bags way back in 2009, but Western Australia has been praised for leading the charge when it comes to getting rid of other plastics.

WA introduced a lightweight plastic bag ban in 2018 and two years later, rolled out a container deposit scheme.

The Plan for Plastics was in response to community feedback and provided a roadmap for a “more sustainable, plastic-free WA”.

Last year, Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) plastics campaign manager Shane Cucow noted in an interview with TND that WA had “upped the ante”.

Now, other countries were turning to Australia to see how they can phase out plastics.

“With the bans across our various states and territories, Australia is actually now being looked to as a leader by many countries,” he said.

In terms of coffee cups, and according to a scorecard from the AMCS, South Australia will introduce a ban in 2024 and NSW has proposed one.

The only jurisdiction in Australia that is yet to commit to a single-use plastic ban is Tasmania.

However, city councils in Hobart and Launceston have introduced bans themselves.

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