Retailers are taking action on single-use plastics (SUPs), such as lightweight plastic bags, straws, cutlery, and other plastic items.

The National Retail Association supports the phase-out of single-use, unnecessary and problematic plastics to reduce litter, however for these to be successful and long-lasting, these changes must be:

  • nationally consistent
  • fair for all retailers regardless of size
  • carefully considered and evidence-based
  • commercially viable and realistic in a global market
  • supported by retailer & consumer education
  • supported by investment in Australian innovation & infrastructure

While some differences in timing are expected between states, critical differences between legislation are halting or reversing environmental progress. We call on local, state and federal governments to work together so retailers can invest in sustainability with certainty.


The National Retail Association is an active member of all state government taskforces and advisory groups.

We work with the whole supply chain – retailers, suppliers, recyclers, waste collection, activist groups, producers and charities – to bring unique insight, technical knowledge, practical experience and international evidence to help inform government policy decisions.

Our goal is to enable sustainable change that is practical, accessible, fair, and ultimately better for the environment rather than greenwashing.

Download our Summary Table on current and proposed legislation (link updated regularly).

View the Summary Table

 

SCROLL DOWN FOR INFORMATION ON BANS IN EACH STATE  

  • Successes & Challenges for Businesses

    Bans proving successful

    • Lightweight plastic shopping bags
    • Straws
    • Stirrers
    • Cutlery
    • Plastic plates
    • Unlidded plastic bowls
    • EPS foodware
    • EPS cups

    Why

    • Safe & viable alternatives available
    • Industry leadership
    • Reasonable notice
    • Evidence of some consumer behaviour change

    Bans proving difficult

    • Printed paper plates & bowls
    • Cups (and their lids/seals)
    • Containers (and their lids/seals)
    • Any items with plastic lids
    • Reusable shopping bags
    • Produce bags

    Why

    • Different rules per jurisdiction
    • Contradiction of globally-recognised models (eg. waste hierarchy)
    • Lack of consistent or widespread infrastructure (eg. composting only available to less than 20% of population)
    • Lack of viable, safe alternatives (eg. alternatives that melt, leach, disintegrate)
    • Cost & time issues (eg. covid, supply chain, staffing, shipping, global impacts)
    • Misleading information (eg. bioplastics, plastic-free)
    • Adverse environmental impacts (eg. carbon impacts of paper, litter impacts of bioplastics)
    • Consumer behaviour, aggression and misunderstanding
    • Short & inconsistent regulation lead times

    Recommendations

    Actions which would help industry to deliver better, long-term environmental outcomes:

    1. National harmonisation
    2. Support existing / recognised frameworks
    3. More viable, safe alternatives
    4. Resource recovery infrastructure
    5. Longer-term plans & commitments
    6. Public education
  • NRA Business Engagement Programs

    Over the past 7 years the National Retail Association have also demonstrated our commitment to helping businesses understand and comply with single-use plastic bans, delivering over 10 state-wide business engagement programs and awareness programs reaching over 10 million Australian consumers and businesses.

    Our Business Engagement Programs

    Over the past 5 years, our team has helped over 100,000 retail and food outlets, suppliers, charities and community groups to phase-out over 10 billion single-use plastic items.

    We customise our education and engagement programs to each government ban, location, demographics and stakeholder groups, providing a range of resources and services designed to help businesses and other impacted stakeholders to understand the ban and manage their transition. In some programs we also have the opportunity to deliver large-scale awareness campaigns.

    Importantly, our specialised team of liaisons visit hundreds of small and medium retailers in their stores every day – across metro and regional Australia – to provide resources, answer questions, and provide personalised advice to suit each unique business.

Single-use plastic bans by state

Need help with the WA or QLD bans?

Below information current as of 21 May 2024.

  • NSW Single-Use Plastics Ban

    What’s banned?

    From 1 June 2022, lightweight plastic shopping bags with handles that are 35 microns or less are banned in NSW.

    From 1 November 2022, the following items are banned in NSW:

    • Single-use plastic straws & stirrers
    • Single-use plastic cutlery
    • Single-use plastic plates
    • Single-use plastic bowls without spill-proof lids
    • Food containers & cups that are made from expanded polystyrene (EPS)
    • Single-use plastic cotton buds
    • Rinse-off personal care products containing plastic microbeads.

    It is also an offence to display banned items, possess for supply and provide false/misleading info.

    Items not in the list above (eg. cups, containers) will be reviewed in 2024.

    Key notes

    • Compostable plastics:
      • banned for all items
    • Exemptions:
        • items in sealed pre-packaged food & bev before store by machine process
        • distribution outside the state
        • straws on request (not on display)
        • plastic-coated paper plates & bowls
        • cotton buds used for forensic, scientific or medical purposes
        • also see detailed info on exemption applications >
    • Defining single-use – 3 key criteria:
          • Settings where items are ordinarily used once
          • Diswashability (125 washes by Nov 2023, 780 washes by May 2024)
          • Marketing
          • See EPA guidelines >

    More information


    UPDATE DECEMBER 2023

    NSW EPA released a Next Steps discussion paper for feedback on proposed bans and other initiatives.

    The paper outlines potential policies targeting three key areas:

    1.Reduce all litter items by 60% by 2030 and reduce plastic litter items by 30% by 2025.

    • Ban plastic cups (could include both hot and cold cups as well as their lids)
    • Ban plastic food containers & lidded bowls
    • Ban plastic lollipop sticks, ice cream sticks, other food service sticks
    • Design standard for plastic beverage container bottle lids
    • Design standard for cigarette butts

    2.Act against harmful chemicals in plastics and microplastics

    • Phase out PFAS
    • Ban microbeads in all rinse-off cleaning products
    • Ban oxo-degradable, photo-degradable, landfill-degradable plastics
    • Design standard for microfiber filter for all new washing machines

    3.Align with other states and territories

    • Ban heavyweight bags (considering reuse standard, or a ban similar to WA, SA and ACT)
    • Ban single-serve plastic condiment packages (e.g. soy sauce fish)
    • Ban helium balloon releases and accessories (balloon sticks, ties)
    • Ban “Other items” eg. EPS food trays, EPS loose fill, Produce/Barrier bags, Fruit stickers, Pizza savers, Bread tags

    Have your say

    We encourage retailers, suppliers, manufacturers and community organisations impacted by the proposals to read the discussion paper and contact NSW EPA to provide feedback.

  • WA Plastics Ban

    What’s banned?

    STAGE 1 BAN

    Banned from 1 January 2022:

    • It is an offence to provide false or misleading information about items which are included in the ban.

    Banned from 1 July 2022:

    • All plastic shopping bags with handles (includes all thickness, includes polymer-coated paper bags, additional requirements for fabric bags)
    • Disposable plastic straws & stirrers
    • Disposable plastic cutlery
    • Disposable plastic plates (incl. polymer-coated paper)
    • Disposable plastic bowls without lids (incl. polymer-coated paper)
    • Disposable plastic containers without lids (incl. polymer-coated paper)
    • Food containers & trays that are made from expanded polystyrene
    • Balloon releases (balloons not banned)

    Banned from 1 October 2022:

    • Disposable plastic cups for cold drinks (cup lids not yet banned)

    Key notes

    Compostable plastics:

      • banned for most items
      • except specific rules for paperboard products

    Exemptions:

      • items in sealed pre-packaged food & bev before store
      • distribution outside the state
      • straws on request (not on display)
      • EPS trays used for raw meat or seafood
      • other specific exemptions apply eg. airlines

    STAGE 2 BANS

    The National Retail Association has been engaged by the WA Government to assist businesses via a tollfree hotline (1800 817 723), a dedicated website for business (www.plasticsbanwa.com.au), and regular online sessions, The NRA team are also undertaking face-to-face visits of 4000 stores in WA from January 2024.

    Summary of the next bans:

    Phase 2a – Supply banned by 1 September 2023

    • Degradable plastic (incl. oxo-degradable and landfill degradable).
    • Cotton buds with plastic shafts.
    • Microbeads.
    • EPS cups and EPS in food and beverage packaging (including meat trays)
    • Loose fill expanded plastic packaging (including all forms of expanded plastic eg. EPS, EPE, EPP and bioplastic foam).

    Phase 2b – Supply banned by 1 March 2024

    • Takeaway coffee cups (excl. AU certified lined paper cups).
    • Cup Lids and seals – hot & cold drinks (including plastic lined lids).
    • Plastic trays for takeaway food not covered in the Stage 1 ban.

    Phase 2c – Supply banned by 1 September 2024

    • Fruit and vegetable produce bags.
    • Lids, windows and heat-sealed film for takeaway food containers, trays and bowls (excl. AU certified lined paper lids).
    • Lidded food containers, trays and bowls for takeaway and eat-in applications. There is a limited exclusion that allows plastic lids/windows for takeaway food that is pre-packed and placed on display for sale.

    Phase 2d – Supply banned by 1 July 2025

    • Moulded expanded plastic packaging (including all forms of expanded plastic eg. EPS, EPE, EPP and bioplastic foam)

    Definitions and detailed information on each item >


    More information

    The National Retail team has been officially engaged by the WA Government to assist businesses to understand and prepare for the bans from 2023 to 2025.

    Call our WA Hotline (1800 817 723) or attend our fortnightly info sessions online. Register here >

  • ACT Single-Use Plastics Ban

    What’s banned?

    Banned from 1 July 2021:

    • Single-use plastic cutlery & stirrers
    • Foodware & cups made from expanded polystyrene (EPS)

     Banned from 1 July 2022:

    • Single-use plastic straws
    • Single-use plastic cotton buds
    • Oxo-degradable plastics

    Banned from 1 July 2023:

    • single-use plastic plates and unlidded bowls (exemption for plastic-lined paper plates and bowls until Nov 2024)
    • expanded polystyrene (EPS) loose fill packaging
    • expanded polystyrene (EPS) trays (including pre-packaged meat trays, etc)
    • plastic microbeads in rinse-off personal care and cleaning products

    Banned from 1 January 2024:

    • all plastic shopping bags, including plastic-lined paper bags
    • non-woven polypropylene bags must be 90gsm and have stitched seams

    It is also an offence to provide false/misleading info.

    Key notes

    • Compostable plastics:
      • banned for all items
    • Exemptions:
      • distribution outside the state
      • straws on request (not on display)
      • other specific exemptions apply eg. EPS gelato boxes, forensic/medical specific exemptions

    More information

  • QLD Single-Use Plastics Ban

    STAGE 1 BAN (2021) 

    What’s banned?

    Banned from 1 September 2021:

    • Single-use plastic straws & stirrers
    • Single-use plastic cutlery
    • Single-use plastic plates
    • Single-use plastic bowls without lids
    • Food containers & cups made from expanded polystyrene (EPS)

    It is also an offence to provide false/misleading info.

    Key notes

    • Compostable plastics:
      • Australian certified compostable plastic items are permitted (AS4736 or AS5810). National Retail Association does not recommend these given bans in other states.
    • Exemptions:
      • items in sealed pre-packaged food & bev before store.
      • distribution outside the state.
      • types of organisations are exempt from the 2021 ban (eg. medical) but retailers cannot provide straws.
      • polymer-coated paper products plates and bowls.

    STAGE 2 BAN (2023) 

    Further items are banned in QLD from 1 September 2023, including:

    • plastic shopping bags with handles which do not meet 2 new requirements (80% recycled content and carry 10kg for 125 uses as verified by reusability tests)
    • cotton buds with plastic stems
    • expanded polystyrene (EPS) loose packaging (eg. packing peanuts)
    • plastic microbeads in rinseable personal care and cleaning products
    • balloon releases.

    Detailed information on each item >

    Some exemptions apply to specific items, but please note that organisation-wide exemptions in the 2021 ban do not apply to items in the 2023 ban.

    The National Retail Association team continue to provide support and advice for businesses, including free online information sessions, visiting thousands of stores, manning a tollfree hotline, and specific factsheets for businesses.


    FURTHER ACTION 

    In 2022, the Queensland Government published a Plastics Roadmap of single-use plastic items which are being considered for bans or other actions between 2023 and 2028. In 2023, a ban on select items was implemented, while other strategies were deployed to look into other items, such as the Beyond Cups Innovation Challenge.

    Further bans have not yet been announced, as the Queensland Government is working with the Commonwealth Government and other jurisdictions for greater harmonisation of actions on problematic plastic.

    The National Retail Association is working closely with Queensland Government who has confirmed that public consultation is a requirement prior to the commencement of further bans. Businesses seeking to be proactive are recommended to phase out unnecessary single-use plastics where possible. Information supporting businesses is available here: (qldplasticsban.com.au).


    More information

    The National Retail team has been officially engaged by the QLD Government to assist businesses to understand and prepare for the bans from 2023 to 2025.

    Call our Hotline (1800 844 946) or attend our fortnightly info sessions online. Register here >

  • SA Single-Use Plastics Ban

    What’s banned?

    Banned from 1 March 2021:

    • Single-use plastic straws
    • Single-use plastic cutlery & stirrers

     Banned from 1 March 2022:

    • Foodware & cups made from expanded polystyrene (EPS)
    • Oxo-degradable plastics

    Banned from 1 September 2023:

    • Single-use plastic plates and unlidded bowls (exemption for plastic-lined paper plates and bowls until Nov 2024)
    • Cotton buds with plastic stems
    • Plastic pizza savers

    UPDATE MAY 2024

    On 17 May, the South Australia government passed regulations on further plastic bans which will come into effect in stages, starting 1 September 2024.

    Our interpretation of the regulations is as follows, however please note that businesses should contact the SA Government directly for clarification or queries. Visit the SA Government plastic ban website: https://www.replacethewaste.sa.gov.au/ or contact Green Industries SA (GISA) on (08) 8204 2051.

    What’s banned?

    Banned 1 September 2024:

    • All plastic shopping bags with handles
      • including plastic-lined/coated paper bags.
      • does not include unsealed bags in which perishable food is offered for sale (e.g. hot chicken or grape bag) does not include pre-packaged sealed bags (e.g. bread bag).
      • does not include synthetic fabrics such as nylon, polyester or woven PP. Non-woven PP must meet minimum requirements (like WA and ACT).
      • reusable plastic bags will not be allowed regardless of thickness or recycled content.
      • secondhand plastic bags reused by charities exempt until Sept 2027.
    • Non-compostable plastic produce bags for all unpackaged fruit, vegetables, nuts, and confectionary
      • plastic produce bags must be certified to an Australian composting standard, and labelled as compostable by September.
    • Plastic bread tags and similar food bag tags
      • includes rigid tags (not soft plastic tags, sticker closures or twist ties) that are used to close a bag of food.
      • does not include rigid tags used for other purposes than closing a bag.
      • time-limited exemption for potato and carrot bags 2kg or more until Sept 2029.
      • plastic tags used to close bags of other produce are not exempt.
    • Non-compostable single-use plastic beverage cups and their lids/seals
      • disposable cups and their lids which contain plastic or bioplastic must be compostable and have commenced their AS certification process by September.
      • businesses have until March 2026 to complete Australian composting certification and labelling on cups and their lids/seals.
      • alternatives do not need to be fibre-based as long as they have achieved composting certification (i.e. pure bioplastics allowed, please note these are not allowed in WA)
      • lids/seals less than 70mm in diameter do not need to be labelled.
    • Single-use plastic beverage plugs/stoppers
      • stickers and other non-inserted spill prevention devices allowed.
    • Non-compostable single-use plastic food containers and their lids/seals/windows for ‘ready-to-eat’ food
      • ‘ready to eat’ food is defined as prepared or packaged onsite at request of a customer, or prepared fresh and pre-packaged on the day, or shortly before the day, on which it is intended to be offered for sale, and is ready to be eaten without further cooking, heating, defrosting, washing or other preparation, and is ordinarily intended to be eaten onsite or shortly after leaving.
      • containers and their lids (including bowls, wedges, clamshells, containers, tubs, windows, seals, etc) which contain plastic or bioplastic must be compostable and have commenced their AS certification process by September 2024.
      • includes condiment containers which are provided with ready-to-eat food and packaged onsite.
      • businesses have until March 2026 to complete Australian composting certification and labelling on cups and their lids/seals.
      • alternatives do not need to be fibre-based as long as they have achieved composting certification (i.e. pure bioplastics allowed, please note these are not allowed in WA)
      • exemptions:
        • time-limited exemption until Sept 2029 for transparent square or rectangular plastic food containers with a detachable lid, if both the lid and base are wholly made from PP or PET.
        • aluminium containers with a plastic-lined paper lid are exempt
        • catering platters used for catering at a function or event are exempt
        • lids/seals less than 70mm in diameter or containers less than 60mL in volume do not need to be labelled.
    • expanded polystyrene (EPS) trays
      • includes those pre-packaged for veges, meat and other foodstuffs
    • other EPS food and beverage containers e.g. EPS gelato boxes previously not captured.
    • plastic confetti
      • pieces of plastic that are designed or intended to be thrown or projected into the air or otherwise scattered for decorative, festive or celebratory purposes.
      • does not include sequins, diamantes, beads, glitter or any other pieces of plastic that are not designed to be thrown/released into air as its function.
    • plastic balloon sticks and ties
      • plastic balloon sticks and ties (i.e. clip or cap-style devices attached to the base of balloons) are banned
      • balloons and other accessories such as balloon weights and other ties (e.g. string, ribbon) are not banned.
    • non-compostable single-use plastic bowls
      • Compostable plastic bowls were previously banned but will now be allowed. The ban on compostable plastic plates, straws and cutlery remains.

    Banned 1 September 2025:

    • non-compostable unlabeled barrier bags for unpackaged meat, dairy and fish
      • these bags must be certified to an Australian composting standard, and labelled as compostable by September 2025.
    • non-compostable produce stickers
      • all plastic stickers and labels on fruit and vegetables must be certified to a specific Australian or international standard by Sept 2025, or started Australian certification (more clarity on this to be confirmed).
      • applies to all produce supplied to SA customers, regardless of origin (i.e. labels on produce grown in other states or countries and then sold in SA stores must comply)
      • does not apply to produce that SA growers export to another state or country.
      • must be Australian certified compostable by Sept 2028.
    • single-use plastic soy sauce containers (30mL or less)
      • pre-filled plastic containers with a cap, lid or stopper that contain 30mL or less of soy sauce.
      • compostable plastic not allowed.
    • attached cutlery, straws and pre-packaged EPS bowls or cups
      • current exemption will end.

    1 March 2026:

    • businesses must have completed Australian composting certification and labelled food and beverage containers as compostable, applies to: disposable plastic cups and cup lids/seals; and food containers, bowls, trays for ready-to eat food (other than transparent, rectangular detached lid containers).
    • Also see above Sept 2024 exemptions re size, aluminium containers with plastic-coated lids, catering platers – we believe these remain exempt (no end date).

    1 September 2027:

    • Exemption ends for secondhand plastic bags reused by charities (see above Sept 2024 exemption).

    1 September 2028:

    • Exemption ends for produce stickers/labels using international composting certification, and they must have completed Australian composting certification (see above Sept 2025 exemption).

    1 September 2029

    • Exemption ends for transparent square or rectangular plastic food containers (see above Sept 2024 exemption).

    Have questions?

    Visit the SA Government plastic ban website: https://www.replacethewaste.sa.gov.au/ or contact Green Industries SA (GISA) on (08) 8204 2051.

    Please note that National Retail are not authorised to answer plastic ban queries for the South Australian Government. We recommend contacting the SA Government directly.


    More information

  • VIC Single-Use Plastics Ban

    What’s banned?

    Banned from 1 February 2023:

    • Single-use plastic straws and stirrers
    • Single-use plastic cutlery
    • Single-use plastic plates
    • Food and drink containers made from expanded polystyrene
    • Single-use plastic cotton buds

    It is also an offence to provide false/misleading info.

    Key notes

    • Compostable plastics:
      • banned for all items
    • Reusability:
      • ‘Reusable’ items are defined as a plastic item that is manufactured: to be used for the same purpose on multiple occasions, and with a warranty (or other written representation) of at least one year.
    • Exemptions:
      • items in sealed pre-packaged food & bev before store
      • distribution outside the state
      • straws on request (not on display)
      • plastic-coated paper plates (exempt until Nov 2024)
      • other specific exemptions apply

    More information

  • TAS / Hobart Single-Use Plastics Ban

    Tasmania has not announced a single-use plastics ban.

    However, the City of Hobart implemented a ban in 2020 which includes:

    • single-use plastic takeaway packaging that is smaller than one litre or an A4 sheet of paper AND
    • is prepared onsite for immediate consumption

    Items include:

    • Plastic cutlery
    • Plastic straws
    • Plastic takeaway food containers and lids
    • Plastic lined noodle boxes
    • Plastic lined coffee cups
    • Plastic lids on takeaway cups
    • Plastic sandwich wedges
    • Sauce sachets (e.g. tomato, soy, tartare)

    Key notes

    • Compostable plastics:
      • certified compostable allowed for all items (Australian Standard AS4736, European Standard EN13432, United States of American standard D6400)
    • Exemptions:
      • items in sealed pre-packaged food & bev before store
      • distribution outside the council area

    More information

  • NT/ Darwin Single-Use Plastics Ban

    The Northern Territory has announced plans to implement a single-use plastics ban by 2025.

    Items being considered for the 2025 ban include:

    • Plastic shopping bags (heavy weight)
    • Plastic straws
    • Plastic utensils and stirrers
    • Plastic bowls and plates
    • EPS consumer food containers
    • EPS consumer goods packaging (loose fill and moulded)
    • Microbeads in personal health care products
    • Helium balloon (releases)

    The City of Darwin implemented a ban from use on council land from 1 January 2019 on single use plastic items including disposable coffee cups, smoothie cups, lids, straws, cutlery, stirrers, plates, bowls and takeaway containers.


    More information

  • New Zealand Single-Use Plastics Ban

    What’s banned?

    Banned from 1 October 2022:

    • Cotton buds with plastic stems or with synthetic fibre
    • Plastic drink stirrers
    • Oxo- and photo-degradable plastic products
    • Certain PVC food trays and containers
    • Polystyrene takeaway packaging
    • Expanded polystyrene (EPS) food and beverage packaging

    Banned from 1 July 2023:

    • Plastic produce bags for fresh unpackaged fruit and vegetables
    • Plastic straws
    • Plastic cutlery
    • Plastic plates & bowls
    • Plastic produce labels

    All other PVC and polystyrene food and drink packaging will be phased out by mid-2025. Regulations have not been released.

    Key notes

    • Includes PVC trays and containers used for meat fish and poultry, fresh produce and baked goods only
    • Includes Expanded Polystyrene sold at retail, including food service, and form-fill-seal pre-packaged
    • Polystyrene takeaway packaging used to pack ready-to-eat food and beverages for immediate consumption, exempting pre-packaged off-site
    • Exemptions for cold chain transport and protective packaging EPS.
    • Exemptions for single-use cotton buds used for medical or scientific purposes.

    More information

Sustainability Resources & Submissions

See All Resources

What we do

The National Retail Association Policy Team exists to help retail businesses succeed and grow within an ever-changing regulatory environment.

Our team works with a wide range of industry stakeholders – retailers, government, law enforcement, regulatory bodies, shopping centres, community groups, supporting associations and many more – to develop industry-wide policy platforms or positions on issues of importance to the Australian retail sector.

We work with all retailers across the retail and foodservice industry – regardless of size, category or business model – from the largest department chains to family-run pizza shops. Similar issues affect all retailers every day – such as retail crime, product safety and environmental legislation – and we all benefit from sharing intelligence and real-world experience.

We work actively with governments at international, federal, state and local levels to ensure the interests and needs of the Australian retail and services sectors are protected and promoted. Rather than running from inevitable regulatory change, we provide a bridge between retailers and government – facilitating the exchange of ideas and information which ultimately leads to more informed, commercially-aware outcomes for all parties.

We place real-world insight above all else, so we actively engage with retailers in stores, strip precincts and shopping centres.

We tackle the issues you can’t tackle alone.

Contact the Policy team

Engaging Real Retailers