Friday, August 12, 2022

Lightweight plastic bag ban in NSW takes effect from 1 June

The NSW Government’s ban on lightweight plastic bags will come into force next week.

Minister for Environment James Griffin says the lightweight plastic bag ban is the first of many plastic items being banned in NSW this year.

“I think all of us can see the impact plastic pollution is having on our environment, which is why we’re making major changes in NSW this year,” Mr Griffin said.

“The ban on lightweight single-use bags comes into place from 1 June, and then from November, we’re banning more problematic plastics, such as cutlery and plates.

“Single-use plastic is used by many of us for just a few convenient minutes, but it remains in our environment for many years, eventually breaking into microplastics.

“Single-use plastic items and packaging make up 60 per cent of all litter in NSW. By stopping the supply of problematic plastic in the first place, we’re helping prevent it from entering our environment as litter, or going into landfill.

“We each have the power to make positive environmental change at an individual level, and I encourage everyone to choose to go plastic-free as often as they can.”

The NSW Government passed the Plastic Reduction and Circular Economy Act 2021 in November, and introduced the Plastics Action Plan last year.

The ban will prevent almost 2.7 billion items of plastic litter from entering the environment in NSW over the next 20 years.

In addition to the 1 June lightweight plastic bag ban, from November the NSW Government is banning:

  • Single-use plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, plates, bowls and cotton buds
  • Expanded polystyrene food ware and cups
  • Rinse-off personal care products containing plastic microbeads.

“Compostable” and “bioplastic” alternatives to the above items are also being banned as they don’t biodegrade unless they’re treated in an industrial composting facility, creating just as much of a problem as conventional plastic.

The NSW Government engaged the National Retail Association (NRA) to deliver a comprehensive retailer education campaign.

Minister for Small Business Eleni Petinos says the NSW Government is supporting more than 40,000 businesses across NSW to phase-out single-use plastics.

“The NSW Government has worked with stakeholders to support small businesses to understand how they will be affected, how to comply with new laws and what alternatives they can use to single-use plastics,” Ms Petinos said.

“Through the NRA, we’re running a retailer education campaign, conducting store visits, and providing online webinars and resources to help businesses make the adjustment away from single-use plastics.”

The NRA has launched a free hotline (1800 844 946) to offer businesses, community organisations and consumers advice on the single-use plastic bans.

In 2022, NSW is banning certain single-use plastics:

  • From 1 June: Lightweight clear plastic shopping bags
  • From 1 November: Single-use plastic straws,* stirrers and cutlery
  • From 1 November: Single-use plastic plates and bowls
  • From 1 November: Expanded polystyrene foodware.

*Exemptions will apply for providing a plastic straw for people with a disability of medical need.

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