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Product Stewardship Amendment (Packaging and Plastics) Bill 2019

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2019

 

 

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

 

SENATE

 

 

 

 

 

PRODUCT STEWARDSHIP AMENDMENT (PACKAGING AND PLASTICS) BILL 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by authority of Senator Whish-Wilson)



INTRODUCTION

This Bill establishes a mandatory product stewardship scheme for manufacturers, importers and distributors of consumer packaging and certain single-use plastics ; and prescribes targets, prohibitions, design requirements, labelling requirements, and financial contributions in relation to packaging and products identified under the scheme.

 

This Bill responds to two interrelated problems: packaging that isn’t being recovered, or isn’t able to be recovered, from the waste stream for recycling or composting giving rise to a loss of resources; and plastic products and packaging that are escaping the waste stream giving rise to littering and marine plastic pollution.

 

Both of these problems arise because the environmental harm associated with end-of-life products is largely external to the market. This Bill would address these issues by introducing a range of market-based instruments targeting consumer packaging and plastics. In doing so, the Bill brings some of the responsibility for end-of-life products into the market.

 

The Bill uses the framework provided by the Product Stewardship Act 2011 , and the following measures provided for in the Act: targets, deposit schemes, product bans, specific requirements, and labelling.

 

The Bill also specifies that financial contributions can be a directive under the scheme, in particular towards the cost of disposing of and cleaning up litter, and public awareness campaigns. This is consistent with the framework of the Act and brings some of the responsibility for end-of-life products into the market.

 

By adopting a product stewardship approach, the Bill encourages and requires manufacturers, importers, distributors and others to: reduce the amount of packaging and plastic being consumed; increase the rate and quality of recycling and composting of packaging and plastics; increase the use of recycled content in packaging; and reduce the amount of plastic waste being littered and entering the marine environment.

 

This approach is consistent with the objectives of the 2018 National Waste Policy, including the adoption of the principles of a circular economy; and the National Environment Protection (Used Packaging Materials) Measure 2011  (Packaging NEPM). Both the National Waste Policy and the Packaging NEPM have been agreed to by federal, state and local governments; and represent, respectively, the overarching waste and recycling policy, and the specific approach to packaging.

 

The approach taken by this Bill is also consistent with the objectives of the Australian Government’s Threat abatement plan for the impacts of marine debris on the vertebrate wildlife of Australia’s coasts and oceans (Marine Plastic TAP).

Loss of resources

Despite decades of efforts to encourage waste reduction and resource recovery in Australia, the consumption of packaging has continued to grow, and over the last decade the rate of packaging recycling has flat-lined. In the case of plastic packaging, the rate of growth in consumption has been even higher, while the rate of recycling has remained at around 30%.

 

In the last two years, these problems have been exacerbated by dramatic changes in the condition of international markets for material recovered for recycling. This is challenging the viability of many existing collection and sorting systems, particularly kerbside recycling.

 

This Bill responds to this problem by setting targets for product packaging, plastic packaging in particular, and for some specific packaging items. This will improve the quality and quantity of material collected for recycling.

 

The packaging targets established in this Bill are the same as those established in September 2018 by the Australian Packaging Covenant Organisation’s (APCO) 2025 National Packaging Targets .

 

APCO is an industry-led co-regulatory arrangement established in 1999 to reduce the environmental impacts of consumer packaging. The Packaging Covenant is an agreement entered into by governments and the packaging industry underpinned by the Packaging NEPM.

 

The 2025 National Packaging Targets themselves were also agreed to by key industry figures, and endorsed by the Australian Government. Incorporating these targets into a mandatory product stewardship scheme will better ensure that they are met.

Marine plastic pollution                                                                          

Marine plastic pollution is emerging as one of the biggest environmental problems of the 21st century. More than 90% of all marine birds and fish are thought to have plastic particles in their stomachs, and on current trends there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean by 2050.

 

The Bill identifies single-use plastic products and packaging that are particularly problematic sources of marine pollution; and then prescribes specific actions for each particular product, taking into account the characteristics of the products and the availability of alternatives.

 

The approach taken in this Bill to reducing marine plastic pollution emulates the Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on the reduction of the impact of certain plastic products on the environment (EU Directive). The EU Directive passed the European Parliament in March 2019 by a majority of 560 to 35, and was formally adopted by the Council of the European Union (EU) in May 2019.

 

In developing the EU Directive, the European Parliament identified the most common plastic items found on beaches in the EU; assessed a wide range of possible measures; and selected specific measures based on the nature of the product and packaging, its use, available alternatives and avenues for disposal.

 

This Bill adopts the following measures from the EU Directive:

·          A ban on selected single-use products made of plastic for which alternatives exist on the market: cotton bud sticks, cutlery, plates, straws, stirrers, sticks for balloons, food and beverage containers made of expanded polystyrene, and products made of oxo-degradable plastic.

·          Consumption reduction targets for plastic food containers and beverage cups.

·          Labelling requirements for selected single-use products made of, or containing, plastic: food containers and beverage cups, cigarette filters, sanitary products, and wet wipes.

·          Industry responsibility for actions related to selected single-use products made of, or containing, plastic: the cost of disposal, clean-up and public awareness campaigns for food containers and beverage cups, beverage containers, packets and wrappers, wet wipes, balloons, and tobacco filters; and the costs of public awareness campaigns for sanitary products.

·          A container deposit scheme and a recycling target for beverage containers.

 

The products identified by the European Parliament as being most problematic have been confirmed against the Keep Australia Beautiful National Litter Index (KAB Litter Index) which collates data from annual surveys on the prevalence of particular products as litter in Australia.

 

The products identified by the European Parliament as being most problematic have also been compared against the Marine Plastic TAP.



 

SUMMARY OF NEW LAW

This Bill establishes a mandatory product stewardship scheme for manufacturers, importers and distributors of consumer packaging and certain single-use plastics ; and prescribes:

·          Targets and deposit schemes for product packaging.

·          Prohibitions, design requirements, labelling requirements, and financial contributions for certain single-use plastic products and plastic packaging that are identified as being problematic sources of litter and marine plastic pollution.

 

In doing so, the Bill will provide for:

·          A reduction in the amount of packaging and plastics being consumed.

·          An increase in the rate and quality of recycling and composting of packaging and plastics.

·          An increase in the use of recycled content in packaging.

·          A reduction in the amount of plastic being littered and entering the marine environment.

Summary of specific actions

The following is a summary of the specific actions required of manufacturers, importers and distributors of consumer packaging and certain single-use plastics under the scheme.

 

Targets for product packaging:

·          100% of all packaging will be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

·          70% of all packaging will be recycled or composted by 2025.

·          Specifically, 70% of plastic packaging will be recycled or composted by 2025.

·          All packaging will include, on average, 30% recycled content by 2025.

·          The consumption of plastic food containers and cups will be reduced by 25% by 2025.

·          80% of all beverage containers will be recycled by 2025.

·          The phase-out of problematic and unnecessary plastic packaging.

 

Deposit schemes for product packaging:

·          The establishment of a national 20c beverage container deposit by 2021.

 

Product bans for certain single-use plastic products and plastic packaging:

·          Lightweight plastic bags by 2021.

·          Products containing microbeads by 2021.

·          6-pack plastic rings by 2023.

·          Non-compostable straws and stirrers by 2023.

·          Non-compostable cutlery and utensils by 2023.

·          Non-compostable plates and bowls by 2023.

·          Cotton buds by 2023.

·          Sticks for balloons by 2023.

·          Expanded polystyrene containers and cups by 2023.

·          Oxo-degradable plastic by 2023.

 

Design requirements for product packaging:                              

·          The attachment of container caps and lids to beverage container by 2023.

 

Labelling requirements for the correct disposal of certain single-use plastic products and plastic packaging:

·          Sanitary products by 2021.

·          Wet wipes by 2021.

·          Balloons by 2021.

·          Cigarette filters by 2021.

 

Financial contribution towards the cost of disposing of and cleaning up litter, and public awareness campaigns for certain single-use plastic products and plastic packaging:                          

·          Food containers and beverage cups.

·          Beverage containers.

·          Plastic packets and wrappers.

·          Wet wipes containing plastic.

·          Balloons containing plastic.

·          Cigarette filters containing plastic.

 

Financial contribution towards public awareness campaigns for:

·          Sanitary products containing plastic.                                              

Details of specific actions

Packaging targets

·          100% of all packaging will be reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.

·          70% of all packaging be recycled or composted by 2025.

·          Specifically, 70% of plastic packaging will be recycled or composted by 2025.

·          All packaging will include, on average, 30% recycled content by 2025.

·          The phase-out of problematic and unnecessary plastic packaging.

 

With the exception of the overarching target for all packaging, these targets are those established by APCO’s 2025 National Packaging Targets . The APCO targets were agreed to by key industry figures, and endorsed by the Australian Government in September 2018. Accordingly, these targets are consistent with the commitments made by the packaging industry as signatories to APCO under the auspices of state and federal government through the Packaging NEPM.

 

This Bill has added to the APCO targets an overarching target that 70% of all packaging recycled or composted by 2025. The inclusion of this target ensures that the packaging targets better integrate the aim of addressing marine plastic pollution, which the plastic packaging recycling target does, with the aim of addressing the loss of resources, which both the plastic packaging and overarching target would do.

 

The overarching packaging target should be easier to achieve than the specific target for plastic packaging given that the existing recycling rates for non-plastic packaging (paper, glass, aluminium and steel) are higher than that for plastic packaging.

Plastic food containers and cups for beverages

·          Consumption reduction target of 25% by 2025.

·          Financial contribution towards the cost of disposing of and cleaning up, and public awareness campaigns.

 

These items are predominantly used away from home, which increases the likelihood that they will be littered and enter the marine environment.

 

Consumption reduction targets are appropriate in both instances given that alternatives are readily available, including non-plastic alternatives, and consumer provided multiple-use alternatives.

 

The EU Directive requires member states to adopt a consumption reduction target for plastic food containers and beverage cups, but does not specify a target. However, during the preliminary stages of the development of the EU Directive, the European Parliament agreed to a 25% reduction target for plastic food containers and beverage cups. As such, this is the target that has been adopted by this Bill.

Beverage containers

·          Recycling target of 80% by 2025

·          The attachment of container caps and lids to beverage containers by 2023.

·          National container deposit scheme by 2021 at a value of 20c per container.

·          Financial contribution towards the cost of disposing of and cleaning up, and public awareness campaigns.

 

Beverage containers are often used away from home, which increases the likelihood that they will be littered and enter the marine environment.

 

Deposit schemes are appropriate for beverage containers given the major component of the item is a single piece of rigid plastic, glass or aluminium that is typically printed or labelled, and therefore easily collected and identified as an individual redeemable item.

 

All but one of the Australian states and territories have introduced, or are in the process of introducing, container deposit schemes. This Bill will ensure universal coverage, and while not providing for it specifically, would facilitate the standardisation of state-based schemes to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of container deposit schemes.

 

The EU Directive only provides for a container deposit scheme for plastic beverage containers, as the scope is limited to single-use plastics. This Bill imposes a container deposit scheme on all beverage containers.

 

Deposit schemes are an effective way of ensuring high rates of high quality recycling. As such, a specific recycling target higher than the system-wide average target rate is appropriate. The EU Directive establishes a recycling target for beverage containers of 77% by 2025, and 90% by 2030.

 

An increase in the value of deposits from 10c to 20c will also help achieve this above-average target rate by increasing the value of end-of-life containers to consumers.

                                       

Requiring that caps and lids be attached to beverage containers is consistent with the EU Directive, and will reduce the likelihood of these items being littered and entering the marine environment.

 

The EU Directive also requires the imposition of a financial contribution towards the cost of disposing of and cleaning up, and public awareness campaigns.

Lightweight plastic carrier bags

·          Product ban by 2021.

 

There has been significant consideration of single-use plastic bags by various jurisdictions of government in Australia over the last twenty years. Many jurisdictions now have bans in place, and some retailers have introduced voluntary bans. Standardising the approach nationally would improve the efficiency and effectiveness of existing schemes, and ensure universal coverage.

 

Outright product bans are appropriate given that alternatives are readily available, and given the extent of public consideration and attention given to this item. Outright product bans are also appropriate to ensure the elimination of these items entering the marine environment. Thin-film plastic items are identified in the Marine Plastic TAP as being likely to be ingested by vertebrate marine wildlife when confused with prey species; and turtles, in particular, mistake plastic bags and other items for jellyfish prey.

 

This approach varies from that taken by the EU, which established a particular directive in relation to lightweight plastic bags in 2015.

Microbeads

·          Product ban by 2021.

 

Microbeads are small, solid, manufactured plastic particles that are less than 5mm and don’t degrade or dissolve in water. Microbeads are problematic to marine life due to their composition, ability to adsorb toxins and potential to transfer up the marine food chain.

 

A voluntary phase out of microbeads supported by the Australian Government has resulted in 94% of products now being microbead free. An outright product ban would ensure the elimination of these items entering the marine environment.

 

This product is not identified in litter counts by the EU or the KAB Litter Index. This is a function of the unconventional nature of this plastic product: it is invisible to the naked eye; is an additive to another product (personal care, cosmetic and cleaning products); and it cannot be captured in the waste stream as it is disposed of, primarily, through the sewage system.

Plastic six-pack rings

·          Product ban by 2023.

 

This product is not identified in the EU Directive or the KAB Litter Index. However, plastic yokes are identified in the Marine Plastic TAP as causing entanglement of seabirds.

 

Outright product bans are appropriate given that alternatives are readily available and widely adopted, and to ensure the elimination of these items entering the marine environment.

Plastic cotton bud sticks, cutlery, plates, stirrers, straws, and sticks for balloons

·          Product ban by 2023.

 

By virtue of being small, this group of products and product classes are amongst the most problematic single-use plastics to collect and recycle, and are more likely to escape collection systems and enter the marine environment.

 

As a result, the EU Directive considered outright product bans are appropriate, and alternatives are readily available.

 

However, the Bill legislates that the supply of a plastic straw to persons with a disability is exempt from the product ban.

Expanded polystyrene food and beverage containers

·          Product ban by 2023.

 

Expanded polystyrene is a particularly problematic plastic. Its lightweight construction makes it difficult to recycle and prone to littering. And if it enters the marine environment it is prone to being ingested by microalgae.

 

The EU Directive considered outright product bans are appropriate for expanded polystyrene food and beverage containers given the level of harm and that alternatives are readily available.

Oxo-degradable plastics

·          Product ban by 2023.

 

Oxo-degradable plastics include additives that accelerate the fragmentation or chemical decomposition of the plastic.

 

However, oxo-degradable plastic does not properly biodegrade and thus contributes to micro-plastic pollution in the environment. Further it is not compostable and it negatively affects the recycling of conventional plastic.

 

The EU Directive considered an outright product ban was appropriate.

Plastic packets and wrappers

·          Financial contribution towards the cost of disposing of and cleaning up, and public awareness campaigns.

 

Plastic packets and wrappers are a form of thin-film plastic used to package food that is consumed and disposed of at home, at work, and away from home.

 

Thin-film plastic items are identified in the Marine Plastic TAP as being likely to be ingested by vertebrate marine wildlife when confused with prey species.

 

The EU Directive requires producers to make a financial contribution towards the cost of disposing of and cleaning up, and public awareness campaigns.

Sanitary products containing plastic

·          Labelling regarding appropriate disposal by 2021.

·          Financial contribution towards public awareness campaigns.

 

Sanitary products refer to sanitary towels, tampons and tampon applicators. The ready availability and acceptance of alternatives varies significantly within this class of products. As such, measures that support changes in consumer behaviour are appropriate at this time, rather than a ban.

 

Sanitary products often enter the marine environment when incorrectly disposed of through the sewage system.

 

The labelling of sanitary products as being harmful to the marine environment if incorrectly disposed of is appropriate to encourage changes in consumer behaviour.

Wet wipes containing plastic

·          Labelling regarding appropriate disposal by 2021.

·          Financial contribution towards the cost of disposing of and cleaning up, and public awareness campaigns.

 

Wet wipes refer to pre-wetted personal care and domestic wipes. The ready availability of alternatives varies significantly within this class of products. As such, measures that support changes in consumer behaviour are appropriate at this time.

 

Wet wipes constitute a flexible plastic which is identified in the Marine Plastic TAP as being likely to be ingested by vertebrate marine wildlife when confused with prey species.

 

Wet wipes often enter the marine environment when incorrectly disposed of through the sewage system. They are also notorious as contributing to the creation of ‘fatbergs’, which are congealed masses that build-up within sewer systems and that restrict the flow rate of the system.

 

The labelling of wet wipes as being harmful to the marine environment if incorrectly disposed of, and a similar public information campaign, is appropriate to encourage changes in consumer behaviour.

Cigarette filters containing plastic

·          Labelling regarding appropriate disposal by 2021.

·          Financial contribution towards the cost of disposing of and cleaning up, and public awareness campaigns.

 

Cigarette filters are a commonly littered item and are identified in the Marine Plastic TAP as being toxic to and likely to be ingested by marine wildlife.

                                                                                                      

The EU Directive suggested measures that support changes in consumer behaviour are appropriate at this time, rather than a ban.

Balloons

·          Labelling regarding appropriate use and disposal by 2021.

·          Financial contribution towards the cost of disposing of and cleaning up, and public awareness campaigns.

 

Balloons most commonly enter the marine environment when filled with helium and released. Balloons are identified in the Marine Plastic TAP as being likely to be ingested by vertebrate marine wildlife when confused with prey species.

 

Given there are no readily available alternatives to plastic balloons, the EU Directive suggested measures that support changes in consumer behaviour are appropriate at this time, rather than a ban.

 

Further, the problems created by balloons are associated with a particular use—being helium filled—rather than being inherent to their manufacture, importation or distribution. As such, more stringent regulation of the use of balloons is of a different nature to that provided elsewhere in this Bill; and is more clearly a state government responsibility.

Table of specific actions

The table below indexes the specific actions for single-use plastics provided for in this Bill. The table also indicates, where applicable, whether a specific action emulates the APCO’s 2025 National Packaging Targets or the EU Directive.

Table: Schedule of actions

Scheme requirement

Prohibition, limitation or restriction

Other requirements

Labelling or communicating information

Financial contribution

All packaging

 

Recycling target

 

 

Plastic packaging

 

Recycling target

(APCO)

 

 

Problematic plastic packaging

Phase out (APCO)

 

 

 

Plastic food containers

 

Consumption reduction target (EU)

Public awareness (EU)

Clean-up and disposal costs (EU)

Plastic cups for beverages

 

Consumption reduction target (EU)

Public awareness (EU)

Clean-up and disposal costs (EU)

Beverage containers

 

Deposit scheme; Recycling target (EU)

Public awareness (EU)

Clean-up and disposal costs (EU)

Lightweight plastic carrier bags

Product ban

 

 

 

Microbeads

Product ban

 

 

 

Plastic six-pack rings

Product ban

 

 

 

Plastic cotton bud sticks

Product ban (EU)

 

 

 

Plastic cutlery, plates, stirrers, straws, sticks for balloons

Product ban (EU)

 

 

 

Polystyrene food and beverage containers

Product ban (EU)

 

 

 

Oxo-degradable plastics

Product ban (EU)

 

 

 

Plastic packets & wrappers

 

 

Public awareness (EU)

Clean-up and disposal costs (EU)

Sanitary products containing plastic

 

 

Disposal instructions; Public awareness (EU)

 

Wet wipes containing plastic

 

 

Disposal instructions; Public awareness (EU)

Clean-up and disposal costs (EU)

Cigarette filters containing plastic

 

 

Disposal instructions; Public awareness (EU)

Clean-up and disposal costs (EU)

Balloons

 

 

Disposal instructions; Public awareness (EU)

Clean-up and disposal costs (EU)

 

APCO: adopts APCO’s 2025 National Packaging Targets

EU: emulates the EU Directive.

 

Membership of the scheme

Manufacturers, importers, and distributors of packaging, or users of product packaging for other commercial purposes, are all automatically members of the product stewardship scheme. This includes constitutional corporations, and body corporates incorporated in a Territory.

 

Corporate entities with a turnover greater than $5 million are required to report against the scheme, and the Minister is required to publicly report on the performance of members against the scheme.

 

However, the Bill does not require each individual corporate entity to submit an individual report under the scheme. Further, the Bill does not prescribe how members of the scheme are to account for their actions, or prevent members of the scheme from reporting jointly, so long as the individual performance of any member that had a reportable financial year is reported transparently.

 

It is envisaged that existing or newly formed industry groups will facilitate joint reporting in much the same way that the APCO currently provides collective services for large-scale packaging firms.

 

The recycling targets and consumption reduction targets, in particular, are likely to necessitate well-coordinated strategies amongst industry to assist retailers in switching to alternatives, and to assist retailers and local and state governments to improve recycling collection services.

NOTES ON CLAUSES

Clause 1: Short Title

1.                   This clause provides that the Bill, when enacted, can be cited as the Product Stewardship Amendment (Packaging and Plastics) Act 2019.

Clause 2: Commencement

2.                   This clause provides that the provisions of the Bill will commence six months from the date the Bill receives the royal assent. This is to allow a period prior to the commencement of the Bill for regulations to be made.

Clause 3: Schedules

3.                   This clause provides that each Act specified in a Schedule to this Act is amended or repealed as is set out in the applicable items in the Schedule. Any other item in a Schedule to this Act has effect according to its terms.

 

Schedule 1—Amendments

Product Stewardship Act 2011

 

Item 1 - Section 6

4.                   This item inserts new definitions relevant to this Bill into the Dictionary of the Act. This includes the definition of products covered under the scheme.

 

Item 2 - Part 4A—Mandatory product stewardship—packaging and plastics

5.                   This item inserts a new part, which establishes the mandatory product stewardship scheme for manufacturers, importers and distributors of consumer packaging and certain single-use plastics ; and prescribes targets, prohibitions, labelling requirements, and financial contributions in relation to packaging and products identified under the scheme.

Division 1—Guide to this Part

40A  Guide to this Part

6.                   This Division provides a guide for this proposed part and explains how the Bill establishes a mandatory product stewardship scheme with targets, prohibitions on certain single-use plastics, labelling requirements, and financial contributions.

Division 2—Establishment and membership of the packaging and plastics scheme

7.                   This Division establishes the packaging and plastics scheme and specifies the members of the scheme.

40B  Packaging and plastic scheme

8.                   Subsection 40B(1) establishes the packaging and plastics scheme, and explains how the scheme is directed towards targets, prohibiting certain single-use plastics, establishing labelling requirements, and financial contribution requirements.

9.                   Subsection 40B(2) specifies the packaging and plastics targets.

10.               Paragraphs 40B(2)(a),(c),(d) and (e) establish targets for product packaging, and are the same as the APCO’s 2025 National Packaging Targets .

11.               Paragraph 40B(b) establishes a further target for all packaging at the same rate as that established for plastic packaging in paragraph 40B(2)(c).

12.               Paragraph 40B(2)(f) establishes the consumption reduction target for single-use food containers and beverage cups.

13.               Paragraph 40B(2)(g) establishes a product stewardship scheme and targets for beverage containers other than cups (i.e. enclosed beverage containers such as bottles and cans). The 2025 recycling target (80%) for beverage containers other than cups established in the Bill is similar to that established by the European Parliament (77%). The introduction of a national product stewardship scheme and the requirement for lids to be attached is also consistent with the EU Directive.

14.               Paragraph 40B(2)(h) provides for the Minister to establish further targets through regulations.

40C  Membership of the packaging and plastics scheme

15.               Section 40C establishes the corporate entities that are automatically members of the scheme and who are to meet the requirements of the scheme.

Division 3—Scheme requirements

16.               This Division establishes the requirements in relation to packaging.

40D  Scheme requirements

17.               Subsections 40D(1-3) provide for the Minister to make regulations imposing further requirements on members of the scheme.

18.               Subsections 40D(4-5) define a packaging return payment and provide that the payment must not be so much that it amounts to taxation.

19.               These provisions emulate the existing section 37 of the Act that allows for regulations to prescribe requirements when it comes to packaging.

20.               These requirements are not confined to members of the scheme. If a person breaches a requirement that applies to the person, the person will face the civil and criminal consequences set out in section 40G.

40E  Matters the Minister must be satisfied of before scheme requirements are made

21.               This provision sets out the conditions to be met before the Minister makes regulations.

22.               These provisions are modelled on the existing section 39 of the Act that allows for regulations to prescribe requirements when it comes to packaging.

40F  Scheme requirement—constitutional connection                        

23.               This provision has been included to ensure that any scheme requirements specified in the regulations are constitutional.

24.               It is modelled on the existing section 40 of the Act but is wider than that provision as it allows for the requirements to apply in relation to actions in a Territory.

40G  Compliance with scheme requirements

25.               This provision sets out the penalty regime for contravention of the scheme.

Division 4—Monitoring of, and issuing directions to, packaging and plastics scheme members

26.               This Division provides for the monitoring of scheme members; and the directing of a scheme member to take, or not to take, certain actions.

40H  Report from certain packaging and plastics scheme members

27.               This provision sets out the reporting requirement for members of the scheme.

28.               A scheme member must provide a report if the member has had a reportable financial year. A financial year will only be a reportable financial year if the member had an annual turnover of $5 million or more in the previous financial year.

29.               For example: if in the 2019-2020 financial year, a member has an annual turnover of $5 million, the 2020-2021 financial year is a reportable financial year. This means the member has 2 months beginning from 1 July 2021 to prepare the report required under subsection 40H(1).

30.               To ensure the reporting requirement is not evaded by a company’s corporate structure, the calculation of $5 million will also take into account bodies corporate that are related to the scheme member.

31.               The $5 million or more requirement emulates the APCO’s requirements for a brand owner to give an annual report if it has an annual turnover of $5 million or over.

32.               Setting a threshold at $5 million will ensure that the vast majority of the market is covered by the scheme without imposing an undue regulatory burden on small business.

33.               Irrespective, the reporting requirement established in this section does not mean that each individual corporate entity is required to submit an individual report under the scheme. Corporate entities may choose to prepare and submit reports collectively.

34.               In any event, any joint report must ensure that individual performance of any member that had a reportable financial year is reported transparently.

35.               The Minister is required to publish the information reported by members of the scheme under subsection 40H(4).

40J  Report for information from packaging and plastics scheme members

36.               This provision sets out that the Minister may make requests for information to members of the scheme, and the penalties that may be applied where a member fails to comply with this request.

40K  Minister may give directions to packaging and plastics scheme members

37.               This provision sets out that if the Minister is not satisfied with the progress a scheme member has made towards achieving a scheme target, the Minister may direct the scheme member to take or not take certain actions.

40L  Packaging and plastics scheme member must comply with directions

38.               This provision sets out that members must comply with a direction under subsection 40K(2), and penalties that may be applied where a member fails to comply with a direction.

Division 5—Prohibition of certain plastics

39.               This Division provides for the prohibition of certain single-use plastics.

40M  Prohibited plastics      

40.               Subsection 40M(1) establishes that lightweight plastic bags and microbeads are to be banned by 1 January 2021.

41.               Subsection 40M(2) establishes that plastic six-pack rings, cotton buds and balloon sticks, any other product specified in regulations, are to be banned by 1 January 2023.

42.               Subsection 40M(3) establishes that non-compostable plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, utensils, plates, bowls and dishes are to be banned by 1 January 2023.

43.               Subsection 40M(4) establishes that expanded polystyrene food and beverage containers, and products containing oxo-degradable plastic, are to be banned by 1 January 2023.

44.               Subsection 40M(5) establishes that a product may be made exempt from a ban through regulations (see section 40N).

40N  Plastics exempt act

45.               Subsection 40N(1) establishes that the supply of a plastic straw is permitted to persons with a disability where straws provide convenience and reduce the potential for harm.

46.               Subsections 40N (2-3) set out that a prohibited plastic may be exempted from a ban if the Minister is satisfied that it is required for food safety, to ensure access, for medical purposes, or for security or personal safety.

40P  Prohibited plastics—constitutional corporations

47.               This provision sets out the penalty regime for contravention of product bans by constitutional corporations.

40Q  Prohibited plastics—persons other than constitutional corporations

48.               This provision sets out the penalty regime for contravention of product bans by persons who are not constitutional corporations.

Division 6—Packaging of labelled plastics

49.               This Division provides for the labelling of certain single-use plastics.

40R  Packaging of labelled plastics

50.               This provision sets out the requirements for sanitary products, wet wipes, balloons and filter tips that contain plastic, or any other product specified in regulations, to be labelled as harmful to the environment if it is incorrectly disposed of.

51.               Further details regarding these requirements will be prescribed in regulations, including the standardisation of wording and graphics.

40S  Packaging of labelled plastics—constitutional corporations

52.               This provision sets out the penalty regime for contravention of labelling requirements by constitutional corporations.

40T  Packaging of labelled plastics— persons other than constitutional corporations

53.               This provision sets out the penalty regime for contravention of labelling requirements by persons who are not constitutional corporations.

Division 7—Financial contributions

54.               This Division provides for the establishment of financial requirements on manufacturer, importers and distributers to contribute to the cost of disposing of, the cost of cleaning up litter, and the cost of public awareness campaigns .

40U  Financial contributions towards costs relating to certain plastics

55.               This provision sets out that financial requirements can be placed on covered persons to go towards the cost of disposing of, the cost of cleaning up litter, and the cost of public awareness campaigns.

56.               Regulations will be made to ensure that a financial contribution is made by covered persons towards the cost of disposing of and cleaning up, and public awareness campaigns for: food containers; beverage cups and containers; plastic packets and wrappers; and wet wipes, balloons, and cigarette filters containing plastic.

57.               Regulations will also be made to ensure that a financial contribution is made by covered persons towards the cost of public awareness campaigns for sanitary products containing plastic.

40V  Compliance with financial contribution requirements

58.               This provision sets out the penalty regime for contravention of regulations requiring a financial contribution.

 

Items 3 and 4

59.               These items insert subparagraphs 51(1)(a)(iii) to (xi) which establish that non-compliance with relevant sections of the Bill by the executive officer of a body corporate is subject to civil penalties under the existing regime established in the Act for body corporates.

 



 

Statement of Compatibility with Human Rights

Prepared in accordance with Part 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011

 

Product Stewardship Amendment (Packaging and Plastics) Bill 2019

 

This Bill is compatible with the human rights and freedoms recognised or declared in the international instruments listed in section 3 of the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 .

 

Overview of the Bill

This Bill establishes a mandatory product stewardship scheme that includes targets, prohibitions, and labelling requirements for consumer packaging and certain single-use plastics.

 

Human rights implications

This Bill engages the Rights of Persons with Disabilities by possibly limiting the access or full and effective participation and inclusion in society of persons with a disability who rely on easily available single-use plastics, in particular to consume food and beverages.

 

The Bill addresses this possible limitation primarily by having considered the availability of alternatives when having established prohibitions.

 

The Bill addresses any outstanding possible limitations by providing for the Minister to make regulations specifying a plastics exempt act (section 40N), including where the Minister is satisfied such an exemption is necessary to ensure the access needs of one or more classes of persons. In other words, the Minister can make regulations allowing prohibited plastics to be made available to persons with disabilities.

 

Nevertheless, the Bill legislates that the supply of plastic straws to persons with a disability is exempt from the ban on plastic straws. This reflects the level of concern regarding any restriction on access to plastic straws for persons with a disability given the absence of suitable alternatives that are both practical and safe.

 

Conclusion

The Bill is compatible with human rights because those limitations that may exist have been considered in the construction of the Bill, and provisions have been made to address any limitations that may arise through regulation.

 

Senator Whish-Wilson