Single-use plastic phase-out update

Since 2021, the Boomerang Alliance has been monitoring state and territory actions on phasing out unnecessary and problematic plastic items. The National Waste Plan target is to eliminate all of these items by 2025. Things are progressing as each state passes legislation but this should be happening with more urgency as some states are slow to act. It would also be helpful to see more harmonisation between jurisdictions with adoption of a schedule when these phase-outs are planned.

Since our last update (Newsletter December 2022), Victoria has finally begun to catch up with other mainland states with certain plastic items such as plastic utensils, EPS cups and foodware.

On 1 February 2023, South Australia announced its future strategy for 2024 including for heavyweight and barrier bags, more EPS items, plastic cups and confetti. Queensland is moving also to ban the release of lighter than air balloons and adopt a standard for what is a reusable plastic bag (we are proposing a strict standard). WA and SA are the best performers so far with over 20 items so far banned or on the chopping block. The Northern Territory has instigated public consultation for its phase-out plans.

In the table below we have identified current phase-out plans and actions by the Commonwealth and state and territory governments. We have added any future plans, where these have been publicly announced.

Commonwealth Government
(through NWP and National Plastics Plan and intended to complement state actions)
NWP has a target to phase out all problematic and unnecessary plastics by 2025.

Targets include 70% plastic packaging recycled or composted, 50% recycled content (20% for plastic)
2025 associated packaging targets out of reach, eg, currently 16% for recycled/composted and 3-4% for recycled content
National Plastics Plan
July-December 2022
Phase out plastic packaging not meeting compost standards (July 22) loose fill polystyrene packaging (July 22), EPS food and beverage containers (December 22) PVC labels (December 22)
These phase-out deadlines were not met.

The NPP requires new washing machines to have filters to remove microplastics (2030)
South Australia (legislation passed with ban implemented on 1 March 2021) March 2021
plastic straws, stirrers, and cutlery
Compostable items (including AS certified compostable plastic items) are included in the bans.
March 2022
EPS cups, bowls, plates and containers, oxo-degradable plastics (including heavyweight plastic bags)
Five-year plan in place
September 2023
Plastic plates/bowls, plastic stemmed cotton buds, plastic pizza savers
NOTE: Possible exemption for plastic lined plates/bowls being considered
September 2024
Plastic produce bags, thicker plastic bags, EPS food/beverage containers, balloon sticks/ties, confetti, plastic bread tags, beverage cups, lids and plugs, plastic food containers
September 2025
Plastic stickers on fruit, plastic sushi fish, banned items in pre-packaged products
Queensland (legislation passed in March 2021 implemented 1 September 2021) September 2021
Plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, plates, bowls, eps cups and containers, oxo-degradable products
Compostable plastics and other packaging items certified to the Australian standards (AS 4736/AS 5810) are allowed/exempt from the ban.
September 2023
Plastic stemmed cotton buds, EPS loose packaging, microbeads in personal care/cleaning products, Heavyweight plastic shopping bags, release of lighter than air balloons
Adopting a Reusable Bag Standard applied to all retailers
September 2024 (possible)
Plastic drinking cups, all oxo-degradable plastics, EPS food trays, produce bags, balloon sticks/ties, bread tags, corflute tree guards.
Five Year Roadmap-but lacks definitive future dates.
September 2025
Banned items in pre-packaged products.

September 2025 (possible)

Bait bags, plastic dome lids, plastic wrapping (newspapers), takeaway containers, sauce sachets
Australian Capital Territory (legislation passed in March 2021 implemented on 1 July 2021) July 2021
plastic cutlery, stirrers, expanded polystyrene food and beverage containers.
Has a set schedule to 2023 for other problem plastics

Compostable items (including AS certified compostable plastic items) are included in the bans
July 2022
Plastics straws, plastic stemmed cotton buds, all oxo-degradable plastics (including bags)
July 2023 (proposed)
Plastic microbeads in personal care and cleaning products, EPS packaging, plastic takeaway containers
July 2024 No announced plans
July 2025 No announced plans
Western Australia through new regulations with bans from Jan 2022 with enforcement from July 2022 July 2021
plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, plates and bowls, cups/lids (cold), expanded polystyrene food containers, heavyweight plastic bags, helium balloon releases.
Has a five-year Plan for Plastics
September 2023
microbeads, EPS cups and food packaging, plastic stemmed cotton buds, EPS loose fill packaging, oxo-degradable plastics.
March 2024
Plastic coffee cups, lids, plastic trays, produce bags.
Excludes AU certified compostable cups
September 2024
Lids/seals for takeaway containers/bowls
Lidded food containers/bowls for takeaway
Excludes AU certified paper lined lids
July 2025
Moulded EPS packaging
Includes all plastics
Victoria bans announced and applied through regulations February 2023
plastic straws, cutlery, plates, drink stirrers, polystyrene food and drink containers, and plastic stemmed cotton bud sticks

Introducing Container Refund scheme
No announced future plans for other problem plastics

Compostable items (including AS certified compostable plastic items) are included in the bans

Plastic lined plates are exempt until November 2024
2024 No announced plans
2025 No announced plans
January 2026
Banned items in pre-packaged products
New South Wales (NSW Plastic Plan legislation passed 2021 November 2022
Plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, expanded polystyrene food service items, plates and bowls (non-hot food), Plastic stemmed cotton buds, certain microbeads in personal care.
No announced future plans for other problem plastics. To be reviewed by 2024

Compostable items (including AS certified compostable plastic items) are included in the bans.
2023 No announced plans
2024 Plastic lined plates are exempt until November 2024
2025 Banned items in integrated packaging allowed until January 2025
Tasmania election commitment 2021 By 2025
Phase out problem plastics (consistent with NWP targets)

Hobart City Council have banned:
plastics straws, cutlery, food containers, coffee and other cups (compostables exempt)
No announced future plans for other problem plastics
Northern Territory managed through the Circular economy Strategy NT By 2025
Heavyweight plastic bags, straws, plates/bowls, utensils, drink stirrers, EPS food containers, microbeads, EPS packaging and release of helium balloons

Darwin City Council have banned:
Plastic coffee cups/lids, other cups, straws, plates/bowls, cutlery and takeaway containers are banned on council land.
No announced future plans for other problem plastics
European Union Ban on single use plastic cotton buds, straws, plates, cutlery, stirrers, balloon sticks, oxo-degradable plastics, eps food/beverage containers and cups by 2021.

Compostable items allowed but not considered a solution.
EPR schemes covering cost of collection, transport, treatment, clean up and education for food containers, packets, wrappers, cups, and containers up to 3 litres, plastic bags, and fishing gear by 2024.

EPR scheme for cost of clean-up, education and data gathering for balloons and wet wipes and tobacco products by 2023.

All beverage containers to have tethered caps (2024) 25% recycled content-PET (2025) 30% all types (2030) 90% collected by 2029.


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