From 1 November 2022, supply of the following items will be banned in NSW:
· Plastic single-use cutlery (spoons, knives, forks, sporks, chopsticks – any utensil used for consuming food)
· Plastic single-use plates and bowls (excludes bowls with a spill proof lid whether separate or attached)
· Plastic single-use stirrers
· Plastic single-use straws (with exemptions for people with a disability or medical need)
· Plastic single-use cotton buds
· Expanded polystyrene food ware including bowls, cups, clamshell containers and plates (includes any plastic item made in whole or in part of expanded polystyrene used to serve food or beverages)
· Plastic microbeads in rinse off personal hygiene products
The ban applies even if they are made from biodegradable, compostable, or bioplastics. This includes those made from Australian certified compostable plastic.
Your reusable bags should already be getting a lot of use, as lightweight plastic shopping bags with handles (35 microns or less in thickness) have been banned since 1 June 2022.
Who do the bans apply to?
Anyone who supplies a banned item in NSW while carrying on a business. This includes activities for commercial, charitable, sporting, education, or community purposes. For example:
· Retail or hospitality businesses must not provide banned items to their customers.
Such as: restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels, takeaway food outlets, party supply stores, discount stores, supermarkets, market stalls, online stores, and any other retailer
· Product/packaging suppliers must not supply banned items to anyone within or into NSW.
Such as: manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and wholesalers
· Community groups and not-for-profits must not supply banned items as part of a service, for regular activities or during events or fundraising activities.
Such as: charities, welfare services, religious bodies, education providers, and fundraising events.
What might this mean for you?
Businesses and community organisations in NSW will no longer be able to supply customers with banned items from 1 November 2022. The ban applies whether a fee is charged, or the item is given out for free.
You may have noticed that some of your favourite takeaway food places have already made the switch from lightweight plastic bags to paper bags, from plastic cutlery to alternatives such as wood, from expanded polystyrene hamburger containers to cardboard or from plastic straws to none.
Why is this important?
Consumers do a great job when it comes to sorting recyclable plastics from waste destined for landfill. Yet despite these efforts, plastic packaging and single-use plastic items still make up 60% of all litter in NSW. These items take thousands of years to decompose and in the process, they are causing great harm to our natural environment and wildlife.
The NSW Government is committed to phasing out problematic plastics. The NSW Plastics Action Plan was launched in June 2021 to manage plastic throughout its lifecycle – from generation through to production, supply and reducing plastic waste.
The first step is to phase out certain problematic or unnecessary plastic products. The banned plastic items have been chosen because they are highly littered and have readily available sustainable alternatives. The bans will prevent almost 2.7 billion items of plastic from entering our natural environment and waterways over the next 20 years.
The EPA’s role
The EPA, as the regulator of the bans, is committed to taking a fair and considered approach to regulation. That’s why we are focused firstly on providing information to businesses so they are aware of their upcoming obligations and can make the switch to more sustainable alternatives.
We understand there may be different circumstances for different businesses and there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ response. In each case of suspected non-compliance, the approach taken will depend on the context and specific circumstances of the incidence. You can read more about our approach here.
How to prepare for the ban
Thank you to the many businesses and community organisations that have already made the switch to more sustainable options. If you have not yet switched, consider the following steps:
· Spread the word – Resources are available in multiple languages to support culturally and linguistically diverse communities – download here
· Let’s Stop It and Swap It – Many of us have already swapped plastic bags for reusable alternatives made of sustainable materials for our weekly grocery shop. That’s a great start! Visit the Let’s Stop It and Swap It page for more ideas about other swaps you can make.
These little individual choices add up to make a big difference to how we use and manage plastic during its lifecycle.