Many single-use plastics including cotton-bud sticks will be banned in Victoria by 2023 in a move Warrnambool environmentalists and campaigners have met with applause.
Victorian Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio said the items would be phased out within two years and also include plastic straws, cutlery, plates, drink stirrers, and polystyrene food and drink containers.
Better Buds campaign spokeswoman Colleen Hughson praised the move after leadng volunteer efforts to collect more than 23,000 cotton buds as well as other plastics from Warrnambool beaches in recent years.
"We have seen first-hand the damage this unnecessary plastic can do, and we congratulate the Victorian government on taking this important step towards protecting our beaches and marine life," she said.
The Better Buds campaign is pushing for a national ban on plastic-stemmed cotton buds as well.
"What today's decision shows us is that change is not only essential, it's also very achievable," Ms Hughson said.
"With so many sustainable and biodegradable alternatives available on the shelves today, there is simply no place for plastic-stemmed cotton buds.
"We encourage other states to follow Victoria's lead and help us get plastic-stemmed cotton buds off Australian shelves, and off Australian beaches."
The phasing out and ban of the items will not impact on medical or scientific equipment, emergency services or other activities using the plastics for health and safety reasons, the government says.
It plans to consult businesses further on the move this year and work with the aged care and disability sectors to provide exemptions for people who require straws or other single-use plastics.
Ms D'Ambrosio said single-use plastic items made up about one third of Victoria's litter.
"We need to change this, so we're getting rid of them," she said.
"When you're at the supermarket or at a cafe, we all need to be mindful of the choices we make and reduce the single use plastic we use. All Victorians can play their part."
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