Report Plastic Pollution

Which Australian states are banning single-use plastics?

July 1, 2023

Thanks to incredible momentum inspired by ocean lovers, seven out of eight Australian states and territories have committed to ban single-use plastics.

Yet with each jurisdiction committing to ban different plastics, you might be wondering which state is leading the race to ban single-use plastics in Australia.

See which plastics each state has committed to ban, by when, in the report card below.

Download the scorecard here

More information

The ACT Government’s ban on single-use plastic cutlery, drink stirrers and polystyrene food and beverage containers commenced 1 July 2021, with straws, cotton bud sticks and degradable plastics phased out on 1 July 2022. In a third tranche of plastics to be banned, single-use plastic plates and bowls, expanded polystyrene loose fill packaging, expanded polystyrene trays and plastic microbeads were be banned on 1 July 2023, and will be followed by heavyweight plastic bags on 1 July 2024. Details here.

The New South Wales Government’s ban on single-use plastics commenced on 1 November 2022, banning plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, plates and bowls, expanded polystyrene food service items, plastic cotton bud sticks, and microbeads in cosmetics. Lightweight plastic shopping bags were phased out on 1 June 2022. Details here.

The Northern Territory Government has committed to ban single-use plastics by 2025 under the NT Circular Economy Strategy, proposing to ban plastic bags, plastic straws and stirrers, plastic cutlery, plastic bowls and plates, expanded polystyrene (EPS), consumer food containers, microbeads in personal health care products, EPS consumer goods packaging (loose fill and moulded), and helium balloons. This may include heavyweight plastic bags, subject to a consultation process. Details here.

The Queensland Government’s ban on single-use plastics commenced on 1 September 2021, banning single-use plastic straws, drink stirrers, cutlery, plates, bowls and polystyrene food & beverage containers. On 1 September 2023, the ban will be extended to plastic microbeads, cotton bud sticks, loose fill polystyrene packaging, and the mass release of lighter-than-air balloons. The government has also said they will introduce a reusability standard for carry bags on 1 September 2023, which will in effect ban disposable heavyweight plastic bags. Details here.

South Australia’s ban on single-use plastics commenced on 1 March 2021, banning single-use plastic straws, drink stirrers and cutlery, followed by polystyrene food & beverage containers and oxo-degradable plastics on 1 March 2022. Further items including thick plastic bags, single-use plastic cups  and plastic takeaway containers will banned between 2023-2025. Details here.

The Victoria State Government laws banning single-use plastics commenced on 1 February 2023, including single-use plastic straws, cutlery, plates, drink stirrers, polystyrene food and drink containers, and plastic cotton bud sticks. The ban includes conventional, degradable, and compostable plastic versions of these items. Details here.

The Western Australia Government has passed laws to ban plastic plates, bowls, cups, cutlery, stirrers, straws, thick plastic bags, polystyrene food containers, and helium balloon releases by 2022. In stage two, due to commence from 27 February 2023, takeaway coffee cups/lids containing plastic, plastic barrier/produce bags, takeaway containers, cotton buds with plastic shafts, polystyrene packaging, microbeads and oxo-degradable plastics will begin to be banned (although bans will not take effect for between 6 – 28 months after this date depending on the item). Details here.

Tasmania has made no commitments to ban single-use plastics, however bans on single-use plastics have been implemented by city councils in Hobart and Launceston.


National commitments

Australia’s National Packaging Targets set a goal to phase out problematic single-use plastics by 2025.

At a meeting of federal, state and territory environment ministers on 15 April 2021, Ministers identified eight ‘problematic and unnecessary’ plastic product types for industry to phase out nationally by 2025 (or sooner in some cases) under the National Waste Policy Action Plan, although this is understood to be a voluntary target. These are lightweight plastic bags; plastic products misleadingly termed as ‘degradable’; plastic straws; plastic utensils and stirrers; expanded polystyrene (EPS) consumer food containers (e.g. cups and clamshells); EPS consumer goods packaging (loose fill and moulded); and microbeads in personal health care products. Details here.

Under the National Plastics Plan, the Commonwealth Government has committed to phase out loose fill and moulded polystyrene packaging by July 2022, as well as expanded polystyrene foodware, oxo-degradable plastics, and PVC packaging labels by December 2022. Unfortunately, these voluntary commitments have not been delivered.