Council Services / Community

City of Hobart - Leading the Way on Reducing Waste

Local Government is taking action to reduce waste generated by single use plastics. Across Australia, the widespread use of single-use plastics is a growing concern for communities. Major concerns include the detrimental effect on human health and the environment of plastics entering marine ecosystems, the significant generation of plastic waste and low recycling rates. These issues have been made worse by the recent import restrictions on recyclable material entering in China, which is having a direct impact on the viability of Council recycling programs in Australia.

City of Hobart - leading the war on waste

City of Hobart is taking the lead on this issue, following inaction from State and Federal Governments. Hobart will be the first capital city in the nation to ban single-use plastic take away containers. The recently passed by-law will include plastic packaging and materials (e.g., plates, cups, lids, straws, cutlery, sachets, wrappers, and containers) in which takeaway food and drink are supplied to consumers at the point of sale.

Council’s by-law seeks to:

  • reduce community/environmental exposure to single-use plastic risks and/or harm
  • reduce the amount of plastic litter arising from takeaway food retailing; and
  • drive the development and uptake of sustainable packaging solutions.

City of Hobart have identified several social, economic, and environmental benefits associated with their single-use plastic by-law including:

  • better alignment of takeaway food practices with community expectations
  • improved amenity and community wellbeing through the reduction of litter
  • improved community awareness of single use plastic impacts
  • less reliance on global markets for recycled plastic waste
  • protective benefits to industries and potential for lower costs to the community
  • enhanced opportunities for compost industry and increased local employment 
  • a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions
  • improved waste management outcomes; and
  • reduced risk of harm to birdlife, marine animals, and human health.
A community survey conducted by the City of Hobart showed support for the ban from community and business. For example, the survey revealed that around two-thirds of consumers are willing to pay more (up to 5% extra) for food and drink that is sustainably packaged, with almost all of the respondents agreeing that it is inappropriate to continue using single-use plastics.

Several other Tasmanian councils are working locally to reduce single-use plastics by banning these items at council events, as well as by supporting other event organisers to implement recycling and waste diversion programs. Local strategies to reduce single use plastic waste are contributing, however we need to see more action at the State level and nationally to lead to behavioural change to see an overall reduction in the consumption of packaging.

City of Hobart has taken the first step towards achieving a ‘circular economy’; which aims to minimise waste and make the most of available resources. The city’s leadership in spearheading a key part of the solution to litter and waste management issues is to be commended and is expected to spread widely at the local level. Let’s hope our State and Federal Governments take note.