Single-use plastics will start to be phased out in NSW from June 2022, after the Plastics and Circular Economy Act 2021 was passed in NSW Parliament on Tuesday. Under the new law, lightweight plastic bags will be prohibited from June 1, 2022. However, the ban doesn’t include bin liners, bags for produce and deli items, or bags used to contain medical items and dispose of human or animal waste.
From November 1, 2022, a range of other plastic products, including single-use plastic straws, cutlery, stirrers, cotton buds, plates, bowls and many polystyrene food-service items will be banned. Exemptions will apply for people with disabilities or medical needs that require them to use plastic straws. And plastic utensils and straws that are attached to a product – such as straws that come with poppers – will still be allowed.
Also starting from November 1 next year, microbeads in cosmetics and personal-care items, such as toothpaste, facial cleansers and exfoliators, will begin to be phased out. Compostable plastic is also getting the cut – it is rarely disposed of correctly and can only be broken down in industrial composting facilities.
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“This legislation is expected to stop 2.7 billion single-use items from ending up in our natural environment and waterways over the next 20 years and is a game-changer in the fight against plastic waste across our state,” said NSW treasurer and energy and environment minister Matt Kean in a statement.
NSW currently creates 800,000 tonnes of plastic each year; only 10 per cent of this is recycled.
As well as the new laws, Australia’s packaging industry has committed to using an average of 20 per cent recycled materials in plastic packaging; ensuring all packaging is reusable, compostable or recyclable; and recovering 70 per cent of plastic packaging by 2025. The NSW Government also plans to establish a $10 million fund to help businesses – including manufacturers, builders and retailers – to set up programs to reduce the use of virgin and hard-to-recycle plastics, and to increase the use of recycled plastic in products.
In three years, the government will review other items, including fruit stickers and heavyweight, multi-use plastic bags common in supermarkets.
Find out more about the plastic ban plan here.