Plastic bags banned in NSW as state ramps up phase-out of single use plastics

Fines for distributing the now-prohibited bags range from $11,000 to $275,000. Griffin said business would have a fortnight-long grace period in which they wouldn’t be fined.


“We’re going to do awareness and education to commence from Wednesday and really make sure we’re working with small businesses to help them understand the change that’s coming in,” he told 2GB.

What else will be banned?

From November 1 another stage of the single-use plastic ban will kick in. Plastic straws, plates, bowls, chopsticks, sporks, forks, swizzlers and stirrers will be banished, as will expanded polystyrene containers often used to cradle takeaway food.

Plastic cotton buds and products with microbeads – tiny plastic spheres used in exfoliants – will also go. There will be exceptions for people with disabilities who need to use products such as plastic straws.

NSW to target more plastics and “nurdles”

The bans are part of the NSW Plastic Action Plan that aims to stop 2.7 billion items of plastic entering the environment over the next 20 years. The government has estimated that NSW uses 2 billion plastic bags annually, and at least 20 million of those end up in waterways and bushland.

Sophia Skarparis, a 19-year-old UTS student who collected 12,000 handwritten signatures on a petition supporting a plastic bag ban that was tabled in NSW parliament in 2018, said she is “beyond happy and excited” about the ban’s implementation.

“This has been a long time coming,” said Skarparis, who was awarded the Australian Geographic Young Conservationist Award by Meghan Markle.


“I went to farmers’ markets, movie screenings … anywhere there was people. There was overwhelming support for this ban four years ago.

“We don’t need to use plastic bags. There are other alternatives that don’t harm future generations and marine life. It’s not worth the 12 minutes of convenience.”

As part of a $356 million five-year plan to address plastic waste, the government put $500,000 towards tackling the release of “nurdles” – plastic pellets that serve as the base material for plastic products – into the environment.

The government will look at banning thicker plastic bags in 2024 as it aims to phase out all “problematic and unnecessary” plastics by 2025.

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