Plastic bags, plates and bowls no longer stack up – further ACT single-use plastic bans

Released 30/05/2023

Canberrans are set to reduce even more waste going to landfill with the next phase of the ACT Government’s single-use plastics ban coming into effect from 1 July 2023.

From this date, the following items cannot be supplied in the ACT:

  • single-use plastic plates and bowls
  • expanded polystyrene loose fill packaging and expanded polystyrene trays
  • plastic microbeads in rinse-off personal care and cleaning products.

From 1 January 2024, the ACT Government will also phase out:

  • heavyweight and boutique plastic bags

“From January next year, plastic bags currently available at major supermarkets and retailers will be banned in a major win for the environment and our community,” said Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel.

“There has been strong support for the shift away from single-use plastics and the transition to using more sustainable materials, which protect our local environment and reduce harmful waste going to landfill.

“The ACT Government undertook a 12-week consultation to inform our decision on the latest banned items, and we thank the community and industry for providing their valuable feedback on this.”

These new bans are addition to the single-use plastic items already banned in the ACT since 2021 including:

  • single‑use plastic cutlery,
  • drink stirrers and plastic straws,
  • expanded polystyrene takeaway food and beverage containers,
  • cotton buds with plastic sticks,
  • all oxo-degradable plastics and
  • plastic bags that are less than 35 microns in thickness.

“Other types of single-use plastics were included in the list of proposed items. The consultation identified, however, that no suitable alternatives are currently available for these items. As a result, they have not been included in this ban but may be considered in the future as better susbstitutes are developed,” said Minister Steel.

“Industry also told us they need time to prepare for the ban, particularly in relation to banning additional plastic bags. The ACT Government has listened to this and the ban on heavyweight and boutique plastic bags will not start for six months and we have also put in place other appropriate exemptions for some other items.”

The following items will not be banned at this time:

  • plastic takeaway containers
  • moulded expanded polystyrene packaging used for the packaging and protection of electronics, white goods, furniture and other bulky items
  • plastic bowls with a lid
  • a temporary exemption applies for plastic bowls and plates with a plastic lining or coating – they will be exempted until 31 October 2024 to harmonise with bans and exemptions in other states such as NSW, QLD and VIC and to allow industry time to develop non-plastic compliant solutions.
  • a permanent exemption applies for plastic bowls used in medical, scientific or forensic circumstances, as alternatives can compromise health and safety.

In a further step to progress lasting change, the ACT Government will also start consultation on expanding the container deposit scheme to include wine, spirit and cordial bottles.

“With more than 444 million containers recycled since our scheme started, including these additional items will make it even easier for Canberrans to recycle and cut waste going into landfill,” said Minister Steel.

“These reforms demonstrate our ongoing commitment to building a circular economy.”

The ACT Government will take an education-first approach to the ban and will provide resources and information to support businesses with the transition.

Have your say on the expansion of the container deposit scheme.

The ACT CDS is a partnership between the ACT Government, scheme coordinator Exchange for Change and network operator Return-It.