Australian Single-Use Plastic Bans
The goal is to reduce plastic pollution on land and in the oceans and reduce the unsustainable use of fossil fuel to make packaging.
Single-Use Plastic bans are an effective strategy to speed up the transition towards a circular economy.
Single-use disposable packaging with a functional life of minutes should not be made with materials that will last hundreds of years. Plastic manufacture, pollution and the very limited recycling infrastructure is front of mind with consumers worldwide.
Foodservice businesses have the opportunity to lead the charge by choosing composting to recycle their food and packaging waste.
So, what products are included in the single-use plastic bans?
Australian National Plastics Plan 2021
- July 2022: Phase-out non-compostable plastic packaging products containing additive fragmentable technology. Along with expanded polystyrene (EPS) in loose-fill and moulded consumer packaging.
- December 2022: Phase-out PVC packaging labels and expanded polystyrene (EPS) food and beverage containers.
- National Plastic Plan
South Australia Plastic Ban
South Australia was the first state to enforce a ban on a selection of single-use plastics. Legislation passed in 2020 with a staged ban commencing 1 March 2021, to be completed 1 March 2022. Products included in the ban:
- 1 March 2021: Plastic straws, stirrers and cutlery, including PLA compostable version of these items. Bioplastic cups, bowls and lined paper cups are NOT banned.
- 1 March 2022: Expanded polystyrene (EPS) cups, bowls, plates and containers, and all oxo-degradable products.
- Brisbane Cup Supplies have a full range of FSC certified birch wood cutlery. FSC certification ensures that the wood has been harvested sustainably and to benefit communities, wildlife and the environment. See our wooden cutlery range
- Penalties: It will not be an offence to supply single-use plastic straws for people with disabilities or medical needs under the legislation’s provision for exemptions.Maximum penalty: $20,000. Maximum expiation fee: $1,000. Different fees for different types of penalties.
- South Australian Replace The Waste website
Queensland Plastic Ban
Queensland passed legislation to ban a selection of single-use plastics on 11 March 2021, to be introduced on 1 September 2021. Products included in the ban:
- 1 September 2021: Plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, plates, bowls, expanded polystyrene (EPS) cups and containers. Compostable plastics and other packaging items certified Industrially (AS4736) or home (AS5810) compostable to the Australian standards are allowed/exempt from the ban.
- Penalties: Any business found to be supplying a banned single-use plastic item or providing false or misleading information to another person about a banned plastic item may face a maximum fine of 50 penalty points (or $6672.50) per offence, with one penalty unit currently valued at $133.45.
- Queensland Plastic Ban
Hobart City Council was the first council to pass legislation to ban all single-use plastic foodservice packaging in March 2020. The City now has a by-law that bans single-use plastics at takeaway food retailers, which will be enforceable from 1 July 2021. The enforceable date was delayed a year due to COVID-19.
- 1 July 2021: All plastic single-use takeaway packaging. Compostable plastics and other packaging items certified Industrially (AS4736) or home (AS5810) compostable to the Australian standards are allowed/exempt from the ban.
- Penalties: The current penalty unit amount is $168 and is set by the State Government. The two penalty units is applicable for an infringement notice which can be issued by a council officer. An eight penalty unit and infringement of up $1344 is assessed if the matter is prosecuted.
- Hobart City Council Single-Use Plastic By-Law
Australian Capital Territory
Legislation is expected to be passed in March 2021 with a single-use plastics ban introduced on 1 July 2021. Products proposed for the ban:
- 1 July 2021: Proposal includes:
- Plastic cutlery, drink stirrers, including PLA bioplastic versions of these items.
- Expanded polystyrene (EPS) takeaway food and beverage containers. PLA bioplastic is currently an acceptable replacement product for expanded polystyrene takeaway food and beverage containers.
- 1 July 2022(not yet passed): Proposal includes plastic straws, fruit and vegetable 'barrier bags' and all other plastic products made from degradable plastic. Compostable packaging alternatives are not included in the banned plastics list.
- ACT Government Plastic Reduction Bill 2020
- Penalties: 1. Supply of prohibited plastic products - 50 penalty units 2. False representation about prohibited plastic products - 50 penalty units.
Legislation is being discussed and expected to be passed in February 2022 with a single-use plastics ban introduced in February 2023. Products proposed for the ban:
- February 2023: Proposal includes plastic straws, cutlery, plates, drink stirrers, expanded polystyrene (EPS) food and drink containers, and plastic cotton bud sticks. Currently, there is no mention of compostable plastics.
- Victorian Single-Use Plastic Bans Information Page
- Penalties for single-use plastic bags. Court penalties of $9,900 for an individual and $49,500 for a company may apply. Retailers who ignore an order from EPA could face a court-imposed penalty of up to $396,500.
Legislation being drafted and expected to be tabled by 2023. Products currently proposed for the ban:
- 2023: Plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, plates, eps food containers, heavyweight plastic bags, helium balloon releases. Currently reviewing position on compostable plastics.
- Western Australia’s Plan for Plastic Information page
- Plastic bag penalties of fines of up to $5000 to supply a lightweight plastic bag to customers.
New South Wales
The New South Wales Government is now seeking feedback on the future of plastics in New South Wales and a range of options that will help shape the development of how we manage waste over the next 20 years.
- Cleaning Up Our Act sets up the parameters for the The NSW Plastics Plan.
What’s the Role of Bioplastic in a Sustainable Packaging Future?
While we fully support Single-Use Plastic bans for non-compostable plastics, we believe that some compostable bioplastic products have a role to play, and for the time being, we will continue to supply bioplastic cutlery across the other states.
More sustainable options for conventional plastic items are readily available. Brisbane Cup Supplies distribute certified compostable, and carbon-neutral alternatives made from sustainably sourced and rapidly renewable materials like sugarcane, FSC certified wood or bioplastic materials made from plants.
Using compostable bioplastic packaging in the foodservice and hospitality industry undeniably helps increase the collection and composting of organic waste.
Single-use foodservice products including cups, cutlery and takeaway containers are often contaminated with food residues making conventional recycling impractical. Compostable packaging allows food waste and packaging to be composted together.
Bioplastics do not solve the problem of littering. However, together with consumer education campaigns coupled with an effective collection and recycling infrastructure, these materials are less likely to end up in the environment.