Plastic plates, cups, cutlery and drink stirrers can’t be recycled easily at our recycling facilities, even when they are made from recyclable plastic. These items are wrong shape or are too light to be sorted correctly by recycling machines, which are designed to separate larger items like bottles and tubs.
Recycling machines will often mistakenly sort plastic dinnerware as paper. The plastic items end up contaminating the paper and cardboard products and significantly reduce the quality of the recycled paper products.
After being used for only a few minutes, disposable dinnerware ends up in landfill or worse, as litter on our streets or in our parks and waterways for potentially hundreds of years.
Victoria will be phasing out problematic single-use plastics. The ban includes single-use plastic cutlery, drink stirrers and plates. Plastic cutlery items can’t be recycled easily, even when made from recyclable plastic. They often end up in our environment, harming wildlife, waterways and oceans. The ban will come into effect by February 2023. Government departments will lead the way by phasing out items by February 2022.
Read about the single-use plastics ban
The good news is that there are many alternatives to using disposable dinnerware. You probably already have these in your kitchen cupboard.
This switch is simple and involves making the most of what you already have. Use your plates, cups and cutlery from home when you have a party at home or go on a picnic. You don’t have to use your finest china or ceramics. Choose more cost-effective, light-weight yet hard-wearing reusable plastic plates for picnic sets.
If you're entertaining and don’t have enough dinnerware, ask guests to bring their own. Tell them you’re trying out some new low-waste living techniques to help reduce your impact on the environment.
If you enjoy making cocktails or mocktails and you use a plastic stirrer to mix them, simply use a metal spoon instead. Plastic stirrers are used for only a few seconds before being thrown in the rubbish. It’s not worth the waste.
It’s not always easy to avoid single-use plastics when you’re out, but some initial planning can help. For example, keeping a re-usable container and cutlery in your bag can prepare you for last-minute takeaway lunches.
With more people trying their best to reduce their waste, there are more travel friendly options available such as collapsible containers and travel cutlery sets.