From 6/2022, single-use plastic bags will be banned in New South Wales, with more bans set to come later in the year.
The state has joined the rest of Australia in banning single-use “lightweight” bags following the Plastic Reduction and Circular Economy Act 2021 passing.
It’s estimated that single-use plastics and plastic packaging comprise about 60 percent of the state’s total litter.
The government has estimated these bans will prevent 2.7 billion plastic items from adding to the state’s waste pile.
There are exceptions – people with disabilities or medical needs will be provided with plastic straws, for example.
NSW is the final jurisdiction to enact a bag ban – though supermarkets have had them in place independently for some time.
South Australia got the ball rolling in 2009, when it banned single-use plastic bags – with an exception for biodegradable ones.
The state carried out further bans on single-use plastics, such as straws, in 2021.
The Australian Capital Territory banned single-use plastic bags in 2011, followed by Tasmania in 2013, Queensland in 2018, and Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Victoria in 2019.
What is being banned?
From June 1:
Lightweight plastic bags, that is, any plastic bag less than 35 microns in thickness at any part.
This will include bags made from biodegradable, compostable, or bio-plastic materials.
The ban does not apply to barrier bags such as bin liners, human or animal waste bags; produce and deli bags; and bags used to contain medical items (excluding bags provided by a retailer to a consumer used to transport medical items from the retailer).
From November 1:
Single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cutlery, including knives, spoons, forks, chopsticks and food picks.
As with the bags, the ban will include such items made from biodegradable, compostable, or bio-plastic materials. Wooden items are not included.
The ban does not apply to serving utensils such as salad servers or tongs, nor to items that are part of the packaging, such as a straw on a juice box, or a plastic film lid on a bowl.
Exemptions will apply in certain settings for people with a disability or medical need so they can continue using straws.
Single-use plastic bowls and plates will also be banned, unless they are intended to have a spill-proof lid – such as something used for takeaway soup.
Expanded polystyrene serving dishes will likewise be wiped out – these being, essentially, the white polystyrene containers you might get your fish and chips served in at a local takeaway.
The ban will not apply to meat or produce trays; packaging, including consumer and business-to-business packaging and transport containers; or to food service items that are an integrated part of the packaging used to seal or contain food or beverages, or are included within or attached to that packaging, through an automated process (such as an EPS noodle cup).
And, finally, the plastics ban will also apply to single-use plastic cotton buds, and rinse-off personal care products containing plastic microbeads, such as cleansers, exfoliants and masks, shampoo, conditioner and hair dyes, and toothpaste.