Plastic pollution is a global issue affecting the environment, industry and human health. Waste avoidance, through behavioural and/or policy tools including bans, levies and voluntary reduction schemes, is one way to reduce the impacts of plastic. The Western Australian government has recently announced one of the world’s most ambitious bans on single-use plastics to be implemented in the next 18 months. The ban will cause a shift in consumer and hospitality business behaviours towards either compostable or reusable alternatives to single-use plastics. However, it is currently unknown which option will be preferred by each consumer group, and how to best encourage waste avoidance behaviours.
Here we present preliminary findings from a series of interviews conducted with café owners and customers in Metropolitan Western Australia and their relevance for local waste avoidance initiatives. The interviews explore alternatives to single-use plastic that have been tried by each consumer group, their views on compostable plastics and their intended behaviours upon implementation of the ban. The goal of these interviews is to better understand whether the upcoming ban is likely to result in waste avoidance behaviours, or simply shift consumption from one disposable item to another. Subsequent research with a nationally representative sample will quantify these findings and identify potential behavioural interventions that could support this ban.