The next stage of the ACT Plastics Ban is coming on 1st July 2023. The phase or tranche 3 bans build on the list of items that are already banned in the ACT. There are penalties for retailers who breach the bans, even if they have stock on hand of newly banned items so these changes must be understood now.
From 1 July 2023:
- single-use plastic plates and bowls
- expanded polystyrene loose fill packaging and expanded polystyrene trays
- plastic microbeads in rinse-off personal care and cleaning products.
From 1 January 2024:
- heavyweight and boutique plastic bags (greater than 35 microns in thickness).
This is in addition to the single-use plastic items already banned in the ACT.
- single-use plastic straws (with exemptions for those who need them due to a disability or health need)
- cotton buds with plastic sticks
- all oxo-degradable plastics. These contain additives that cause them to break down into microplastics which are harmful to the environment. They are often used in products like dog waste bags and rubbish bags and can be labelled as degradable.
- single-use plastic cutlery
- single-use plastic stirrers
- expanded polystyrene takeaway food and beverage containers
- single-use plastic shopping bags at or below 35 micrometres in thickness.
Single-use plastic straws: Businesses can supply single-use plastic straws to individuals with a medical or health need. No reason or proof of need is required, however straws cannot be displayed. Healthcare entities providing care or products to people with a disability or healthcare need may display and supply single-use plastic straws. Examples of healthcare entities include hospitals, aged care or disability facilities or pharmacies.
Single-use plastic bowls: Single-use plastic bowls designed or intended to have a spill-proof lid are exempt. Plastic bowls may be supplied for scientific, forensic or medical purposes, which alternative products would compromise. Paper or cardboard bowls with a plastic lining or coating (e.g. novelty items) are exempt until 31 October 2024.
Single-use plastic plates: Paper or cardboard plates with a plastic lining or coating (e.g. novelty items) are exempt until 31 October 2024.
Cotton buds with plastic sticks: These may be supplied for scientific, forensic or medical purposes which would be compromised by the use of alternative products.
Integrated packaging items: Banned single-use plastic items which are part of pre-packaging as part of a product are exempt. Examples include a plastic straw attached to the side of a juice box or a plastic spoon packaged with a yogurt tub.
Detainee or mental health settings: Banned single-use plastic cutlery can still be supplied in certain detainee or mental health patient settings for safety reasons.
Domestic use: Single-use plastic items purchased before the ban can still be used in a domestic setting. Examples include a family picnic or in school lunchboxes.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Bioplastics alternatives are also banned
Bioplastics are a type of plastic made from plant-based resources instead of crude oil. They too can cause the damage to the environment if littered.
What questions should I ask my supplier when ordering alternative items?
Ask your supplier if the items ordered meet the requirements of the ACT’s legislation.
Also ask if the items contain any bioplastics, glues and/or other additives/bonding agents. If the answer is yes, do not buy these as they are also banned.
Why are bioplastic products NOT acceptable alternatives?
Bioplastics (such as PLA) are made from plant-based resources instead of fossil fuels. They look and feel like regular plastic, cause the same environmental harm as conventional plastic, and many types cannot be recycled in ACT recycling bins.
If littered, they will cause the same environmental damage as regular plastic.
Can I use up the stock I purchased before the ban?
No. Businesses, community organisations and institutions cannot supply banned items to customers. This includes any items purchased before the ban.
What can I do with single-use plastics purchased before the ban?
Single-use plastic items banned in the ACT cannot be recycled due to their shape, size or type of plastic.
Some of the ways to use up existing stock include:
- Speak with your supplier and ask if you can swap the items for compliant items
- If you have stores in other states, see if you can move the items to a state where the items are currently not banned
- Take home as the items can still be used in domestic settings .