By Pam Kiriakidis

HOSPITALITY owners and businesses are preparing for a new single-use plastics ban that will come into effect across Victoria on February 1.

The state-wide ban means suppliers, retail and hospitality businesses, organisations and non-for-profits will need to supply disposable alternatives, replacing plastic with metal, silicone, paper, wood, bamboo, and items that are non-compostable.

Kilmore Fish and Chips owner Rocky Ouck said he supported the environmental ban and was leaning towards disposable utensils, depending on the cost.

“We knew it was coming, the only problem is that the stuff that we have to replace with, for us as a small business, is costly,” he said.

“[Disposable alternatives] are a lot more expensive, as in five to 10 times more … so if you get them for 10 or 20 cents, or even 50 cents for cups, then that’s the kind of stuff that we have to pass on to customers, which is going to be hard.”

Mr Ouck said the business started to make small changes, switching from foam containers to sugar-based cane, and was slowly transitioning other products to adapt to the ban.

Kilmore Kebabs and Chicken owner Retesh Thukral, who has served Kilmore for more than 10 years, said he was also on board the change, however, was unaware of the announcement until a few weeks ago.

“If we knew, we wouldn’t have ordered too much of the stock. I have to get rid of it because being a small business, the money is just sitting or throwing [itself] in the bin,” he said.

In lead up to the ban, Mr Thukral said prices would remain the same, however there could be an increase depending on the shops’ expenses.

“I have seen a couple of options, which is a wooden spoon, or there is packaging everything, like knives and serviettes, in one ecofriendly packaging,” he said.

“I am going to bear the cost at the moment because the competition in Kilmore is too much … if I can’t, then I might have to put the prices up.”

Mr Thukral said the ban was a ‘small step’ to a larger issue that appeared globally.

Mitchell Shire Mayor Fiona Stevens said the benefits of the ban was to help reduce the high percentage of single-use-plastic that took hundreds or thousands of years to break down.

“It’s important that we take action to decrease the amount of single-use plastic before it becomes an even bigger problem for the environment and our communities,” she said.

“We have a responsibility to safeguard the environment for future generations and this is a significant step in that direction.”

Ms Stevens said the ban was beneficial at a local level, managing the amount of waste that would often end up in the shires’ creeks and rivers.

“Another local benefit will be the reduction of plastic litter polluting our local environment and waterways, such as creeks, dams, and our wonderful Goulburn River,” she said.

For more information on how to prepare visit www.vic.gov.au/single-use-plastics, or email sustainability@nra.net.au or call the hotline 1800 844 946.