Waste not, want not – new measures to reduce harmful single-use plastics

The University makes every effort to identify and implement environmentally sustainable practices wherever possible.

This includes embracing measures that help reduce the wasteful use of products that usually end up in landfill or worse, harming wildlife and the environment.

You may have noticed some positive changes in the delivery of food and beverage services by our friendly campus vendors. They have adopted legislation requirements that prohibit the use of certain types of products, including:

  • Single-use plastic cutlery, stirrers, and straws
  • Polystyrene products, like foam cups and takeaway containers
  • Oxo-degradable plastic, sometimes used to make products like supermarket produce bags and bin liners.

The University has gone one step further to update lease conditions for retailers, ensuring that all food and beverages made on campus are served in 100% compostable packaging.

Why the change?

In 2020, South Australian was the first Australian jurisdiction to pass legislation prohibiting the use of specific products proven to have an adverse impact on the environment. The Single-use and Other Plastic Products (Waste Avoidance) Act 2020 (SA) set target dates for the elimination of these products from most supply and retail businesses in South Australia.

Since 1 March 2021, businesses have been moving towards compliance with the new requirements. On 1 March 2022, the prohibition on polystyrene and oxo-degradable products came into effect.

What should you do?

Don’t accept any of these products from any businesses unless there is a specific exemption – for example, plastic straws may be a safety requirement in a care facility setting. Fines will be applied to those who manufacture, distribute, or supply these prohibited products. You can report a business that is not meeting its obligations to the Environment Protection Authority.

Safely dispose of any of these products you have at home or in the office. Polystyrene and oxo-degradable products disintegrate into small particles (microplastics) in the environment, so be sure to place these in a non-degradable bag before putting in the waste bin. Some companies will accept polystyrene for recycling.

Check the SA Government’s website for more details and information about other steps you can take to replace and reduce your waste.

For more information about what the University is doing to support a sustainable future and what action you can take, check out the Ecoversity website.

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