The NSW Government’s new single-use plastics bans and what they mean for your business

Some single-use plastics will be banned from 1 June in New South Wales.

From Wednesday 1 June, NSW Government legislation bans certain single-use plastic items. Businesses will no longer be able to supply these items in NSW. Here’s how to prepare and where to go for more resources and support.

About the bans

It’s all part of the NSW Government’s plan to phase out single-use plastics.

These bans apply to all businesses, organisations and anyone holding an activity for charitable, sporting, education or community purposes in NSW. Learn more about who the bans affect.

Single-use plastic items to be banned

Lightweight plastic bags

A lightweight plastic bag is a fully or partly plastic bag with handles, which is 35 microns thick or less at any part of the bag.

Date of ban: From Wednesday 1 June

What to know: This ban includes lightweight bags made from biodegradable plastics, compostable plastics or bio-plastics, including those made from Australian certified compostable plastic.

The ban doesn’t apply to barrier bags such as bin liners, nappy bags or dog poo bags, produce and deli bags, or bags used to contain medical waste.

Single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cutlery

You have a little more time to prepare for the ban on single-use plastic straws, stirrers, swizzle sticks, cutlery, including forks, spoons, knives, sporks, splayds, chopsticks, and food picks.

Date of ban: From Tuesday 1 November

What to know: This ban includes items made from biodegradable plastics, compostable plastics or bio-plastics. Some exemptions apply.

Single-use plastic bowls and plates

Date of ban: From Tuesday 1 November

What to know: This ban includes items made from biodegradable plastics, compostable plastics or bio-plastics.

The ban doesn’t apply to single-use plastic bowls designed to have a spill-proof lid, such as those used for takeaway soup. Find out more about the exemption.

Polystyrene is a nightmare for the environment. Lightweight and flimsy, it can easily blow away and break apart.

Expanded polystyrene food service items

All expanded polystyrene food service items are banned in NSW, such as clamshells, cups, plates and bowls.

Date of ban: From Tuesday 1 November

Learn more about the bans, including upcoming bans on single-use plastic cotton buds and microbeads.

What you can use instead

Instead of seeking out single-use plastic alternatives, like paper or bamboo, let’s say goodbye to single-use items altogether. See our tips below and use our eliminating single-use toolkit for more ways to do this.

  • Encourage customers to bring their own reusable item such as bags, containers and cutlery. Put a sign up to let customers know that reusable items are welcome. You could even charge extra for takeaway single-use items to motivate customers to bring their own.
  • If customers dine in-store, provide them with reusable items made from metal, glass or ceramic. Reducing the number of single-use items you give away also reduces the cost to your business.
  • Replacing lightweight plastic bags with paper bags isn’t a great option if the bags only get used once. Reuse leftover delivery boxes instead of single-use plastic or paper bags.
  • If you decide your business still needs disposable alternatives, consider sustainably sourced paper, sugarcane pulp (bagasse), wood or bamboo. Make sure that alternatives are not made from or do not contain compostable plastic and are certified food safe.
  • For customers taking away, don’t provide them with disposable items automatically. If they’re going home or back to the office, they probably don’t need it. Display a poster on your counter saying they are only given on request.

Why are compostable plastic alternatives banned?

Most items made from compostable plastic and bioplastics look just like regular plastic but they can’t be recycled at the same facilities. They don’t biodegrade unless they’re treated in a commercial composting facility.

If compostable plastics or bioplastics end up in landfill or as litter in the environment, they won’t break down and create just as big a problem as conventional plastic.

Supplying compostable plastic and bioplastic straws, cutlery, stirrers, bowls and plates is not allowed under the NSW ban, even if they’re labelled plastic-free.

More information and resources

There’s support available for your business:

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