Media Release Plastic Pollution

Today's NSW plastic ban will divert 2.7 billion plastic items from oceans

November 1, 2022
  • Ban will help whales, dolphins, turtles and seabirds
  • NSW has largest plastic footprint, must also act on balloons,
    the biggest plastic killer of seabirds

Australia’s leading ocean conservation organisation says today’s ban on single-use plastics has turned New South Wales from a laggard to a leader in the fight against ocean plastics.

Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) plastics campaign manager Shane Cucow said: “This plastics ban is a huge win for our dolphins, whales and seabirds, and all Australians who love our oceans.

“As the state with the largest plastic footprint, NSW is pivotal to ending ocean plastic pollution.

“Plastics such as shopping bags, disposable cutlery and straws are some of the most commonly found plastics along our coasts and in our oceans. Today’s ban is projected to stop up to 2.7 billion plastic items from entering our natural environment over the next 20 years, according to government figures.

“We thank the government for listening to ocean lovers, who have been demanding action to clean up plastic pollution and restore our beautiful marine environment.”

From today, plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, unlidded plates and bowls, expanded polystyrene food service items, plastic cotton bud sticks, and microbeads in cosmetics will be banned in NSW. Lightweight plastic shopping bags have been banned in the state since June 1 this year.

Under the new laws, on-the-spot fines can be issued of up to $1100 for individual businesses and $5500 for corporations who continue to supply banned plastic items.

Mr Cucow said it was important the laws were soon expanded to include other lethal plastics, expressing disappointment that the government chose not to act on balloons.

“NSW and the ACT are the only jurisdictions with laws that explicitly allow the reckless practice of releasing balloons into the sky,” Mr Cucow said.

“Balloons are the biggest plastic killer of seabirds, 32 times more likely to kill birds than hard plastic waste. It’s time to end this dangerous practice once and for all.”

When the laws were passed, an amendment to ban balloon releases was moved by the Animal Justice Party and supported by Labor and the Greens, but it failed by one vote with the government opposed.

The laws also exclude plastic cups and thicker plastic bags, which are banned in Western Australia.