Am I allowed to take my own container to collect food?
There is no provision under the Food Act 2003 or the Food Standards Code preventing patrons from supplying their own containers for the storage of purchased food.
If a business has a policy to not accept customer containers, then this is a business decision rather than as a result of a legislative requirement and there may be some legitimacy to such a policy from a public health perspective for example in order for the business to refuse to handle obviously unclean containers.
Are there alternatives to single use plastics?
There are a range of alternatives to petroleum based plastic food and drink packaging, and lots of food vendors in the City are already using them. At most festivals and events you go to now the cups you drink from will be totally organic, as are the plates and bowls your food is served on. Alternatives are paper & cardboard based, and plant starch based products (using sustainably grown crops such as corn). These are readily available and widely used within Hobart already.
Why is the City of Hobart focused on the reduction of single use plastics?
The City has developed an ambitious waste strategy that aims to have zero waste to landfill by 2030. The strategy also seeks to reduce litter. Petroleum based plastic food and drink packaging is a relatively low percentage of overall waste to landfill by weight, but large in number of items. It is a commonly found item in the litter stream, and a major issue that needs to be addressed because of the dangers it poses to Tasmanian biodiversity, in particular its marine creatures.
The City has a commercial organics compost facility that is capable of composting alternative take away packaging products – we have tested and trialled the composting of a range of different alternative products (bags, cups, plates, cutlery, etc) and found they are all decomposing in our compost facility. In a landfill environment alternative packaging will break down, whereas petroleum based plastics will never break down, even in a landfill.
Is there a litter problem in Hobart?
Almost every piece of petroleum based plastic ever produced still exists on the earth in some form today. It may break down into smaller fragments, and it is then that it creates issues for marine ecosystems. Small ‘micro-plastics’ in the marine environment become a home for bacteria and toxins, and because the plastics are mistaken for a food source by marine animals, this is creating harmful impacts to those animals, and the other animals that in turn eat them.
In the last 10 years the world has produced more plastic than it did in the previous decade. Half of this plastic is considered ‘disposable’. We need to question the sense of making disposable items out of a material that is effectively indestructible, and seek alternatives.
While a lot of litter is deposited away from the sea, most litter makes its way to marine ecosystems travelling by waterways and the wind. The City has over 400 litter traps around the City’s stormwater network which help to capture a lot of plastic containers, however no litter collection system is 100% effective and it is inevitable that some containers are making their way into the River Derwent. Non petroleum based plastic alternatives will fully break down and decompose in the environment, eliminating the risks to biodiversity even if they end up as litter.