The NSW Government has announced a ban on certain single-use plastic items in the state. The plastic ban is part of the government’s plan to phase out single-use plastics and reduce the harmful impact these items have on our built environment.
From June 1, 2022, the ban on specific plastic items will be phased in throughout the year and will apply to all businesses, organizations and anyone holding an event for charity, sporting, educational or community in New South Wales. Businesses will no longer be able to supply these items and customers will no longer be able to receive them.
Here are the 5 single-use plastic items that will be banned in New South Wales this year:
1. Lightweight plastic bags from June 1
Lightweight plastic bags, including those made from biodegradable plastics, compostable plastics or bioplastics, will be officially banned statewide starting June 1. The ban does not apply to barrier bags such as trash bags, diaper bags or dog poo bags, produce and deli bags, or bags used to hold medical waste.
- Pack a reusable shopping bag every time you go out.
- Ask customers if they need a bag before providing one.
- Avoid single-use alternatives like paper bags.
- Reuse leftover delivery boxes.
- For disposable alternatives, choose a sustainably sourced bag or one made from recycled paper.
2. Single-use plastic straws, stirrers and cutlery from November 1
Single-use plastic straws, stirrers, stir sticks, cutlery including forks, spoons, knives, spoons, spatulas, chopsticks and food picks are banned from November 1. The ban also covers items made from biodegradable plastics, compostable plastics or bioplastics with certain exemptions.
- When buying takeout, say no to single-use cutlery. Carry reusable items in your bag or bring home or office food to eat.
- If you are a business, provide customers with disposable items only upon request. You can even charge extra for takeout single-use items.
- If customers are dining in-store, provide them with reusable metal, glass or ceramic items.
- Businesses that need disposable alternatives can look for compostable options made from paper, wood, or bamboo.
3. Single-use plastic bowls and plates from November 1
Single-use plastic bowls and plates, including items made of biodegradable plastic, compostable plastic or bioplastic, are prohibited from November 1. Single-use plastic bowls designed to have a splash-proof lid, such as those used for take-out soup, are exempted.
- Encourage customers to bring their own clean plates, bowls or containers for takeout.
- Consider reusable bowls or plates for customers dining in-store.
- For events, ask catering or rental companies to provide reusable plates and bowls.
- Always consider reusable alternatives before purchasing disposable paper plates.
4. Styrofoam catering items from November 1
All styrofoam catering items such as shells, cups, plates and bowls will be banned in New South Wales from November 1.
- For customers who dine in-store, consider reusable containers, cups, plates or bowls made of glass, metal, ceramic or reusable plastic.
- If your business still needs disposable alternatives, consider paper, sugar cane pulp (bagasse), wood or bamboo from sustainable sources. Make sure the alternatives are not made from or contain compostable plastic and are certified food safe.
5. Single-use plastic cotton swabs and microbeads in personal care products from November 1
Single-use plastic cotton swabs and rinse-off personal care products containing plastic microbeads, such as face and body cleansers, scrubs and masks, shampoos, conditioners, tints capillaries and toothpaste, will be prohibited from November 1st.
- Look for reusable silicone earbuds that you can clean and reuse.
- Many manufacturers have been phasing out microbeads in personal care products for some time. If in doubt, check the label or ask suppliers for proof that the products do not contain microbeads smaller than 5mm in width.
Prohibition of alternatives to compostable plastic explained
Most items made from compostable plastic and bioplastic cannot be recycled in the same facilities. They only biodegrade if treated in a commercial composting facility. If compostable plastics or bioplastics end up in a landfill or as litter in the environment, they will not decompose, creating a problem similar to conventional plastic.
The supply of compostable plastic and bioplastic straws, cutlery, stirrers, bowls and plates is not permitted under the NSW ban, even if labeled plastic-free.