Single-use plastics ban in Victoria from February 2023 – what does it mean for people with disability?
From 1 February 2023, the Victorian Government is banning single-use plastics from being sold and supplied in the state of Victoria. The following single-use plastic items will be banned:
- drinking straws
- drink stirrers
- cotton bud sticks
- expanded polystyrene food service items and drink containers.
However, when the state wide ban rolls out there will be some exemptions. This includes where single-use plastics are used by people living with a disability for health, safety and accessibility. For the full list of exemptions available visit, the Victorian Government Single-Use Plastics website.
The ban on single-use plastics will apply to all businesses and organisations in Victoria, including not-for-profits, government, sport clubs and schools.
While banning single-use plastics is a great measure to take for the environment, the disability community has raised concerns about the ban impacting accessibility. There are some plastic items that can be an essential accessibility tool for people living with a disability.
For example, the common bendy plastic straw was originally created for medical purposes in the 1940s. They were mainly used in hospitals to help patients drink more easily while in bed.
Today, plastic straws are still an essential tool for people who cannot lift a glass to their mouth or may have motor control, chewing or swallowing issues.
Although there are other options to replace single-use plastic straws, most of them aren’t viable options for people with disabilities. A lot of these options (such as paper, bamboo or metal) can represent a choking or injury hazard, an allergen risk or are simply lacking the flexibility or durability needed.
While exemptions will be in place in hospitality venues, there is no requirement for plastic straws to be stocked, which means there is no guarantee they will be available when needed, adding a layer of complexity into the lives of people living with a disability.
It’s important to care for our environment but we must do so without creating barriers to accessibility.
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