A NSW Government website

NSW Plastics Action Plan

Let’s Stop It and Swap It

If you need an interpreter to help you please call the Translating and Interpreting Service on 131 450 and ask them to call the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) on 131 555. The interpreter will then help you with interpretation.

Let's stop it. Go plastic free.

Businesses and community organisations must stop supplying a range of single-use plastic items from 1 June 2022 under new legislation designed to prevent nearly 2.7 billion plastic items from entering the state’s coastal, marine and bushland environments over the next 20 years.

The supply of lightweight plastic bags is banned from 1 June 2022. The ban does not include heavier weight reusable plastic bags, such as those for sale at supermarkets.

From 1 November 2022, the ban will be extended to include the supply of single-use plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, bowls and plates as well as expanded polystyrene food service items like containers and cups, single-use plastic cotton buds, and some personal care products containing plastic microbeads.

Let's swap it. Go plastic free.

Did you know that plastic packaging and single-use plastic items make up 60% of all litter in NSW?

Consumers are encouraged to swap single-use plastic items for reusable and sustainable alternatives to help reduce the amount of plastic waste that ends up in landfill, as litter or in our environment, like microplastics.

Many of us have already swapped plastic bags for reusable alternatives made of sustainable materials for our weekly grocery shop. That’s a great start but think about how much plastic we could remove from circulation if we used these same bags when shopping for other essentials such as clothes, shoes, or gifts.

Instead of using plastic cutlery on your next family picnic, why not swap it for alternatives made from a sustainable material or bring a special reusable picnic set from home?

Swap single-use disposable plastic plates at your school fundraiser for reusable dinnerware which can be put through a dishwasher and used time after time.

A little bit of thought goes a long way when it comes to reducing the amount of plastic waste we generate. By changing our behaviour and the choices we make, we can make a huge collective difference to our environment.

Learn what the ban means for your business

For further information, view the frequently asked questions and resources. Scroll the photo gallery to see banned items and alternatives to banned items from 1 November 2022.

Background information

Plastic fantastic

Plastic, plastic everywhere. Our supermarkets are full of plastic bottles containing milk, juice, soft drinks, and even water. We use plastic bags to line our bins, to contain our fresh fruits and vegetables, and to carry our grocery items. Plastic packaging is used for takeaway food orders and most of our manufactured grocery items such as biscuits, yoghurt, cheese, meat and poultry, frozen vegetables, ice cream, the list goes on.

Plastic is a great invention. It doesn’t break like glass, it is much lighter and less expensive to manufacture than alternatives, and it can made into a seemingly endless array of shapes and sizes. But it can be a real problem when the time comes to dispose of it, particularly if it is designed to be used just once.

So, what's the problem

Consumers do a very good job when it comes to sorting recyclable plastics from waste destined for landfill. Yet despite these efforts, only 10% of plastics are being recycled in NSW, while plastic packaging and so-called single-use plastic items still make up 60% of all litter in NSW. These items take thousands of years to decompose and in the process, they are causing great harm to our natural environment and wildlife.

What we are doing about it

The solution to this problem is to use less plastic. We all took a significant step in the right direction when major supermarket chains around Australia stopped supplying lightweight plastic carry bags for our grocery items.

Now most of us now take our own reusable shopping bags, made from sustainable materials, on our weekly grocery shop. If we forget our reusable bags, or we buy more than we had planned, we can purchase a heavy plastic bag, designed to be used multiple times, from the checkout. But lightweight bags were still in use and readily available for free to consumers.

The NSW government created new legislation, starting on 1 June 2022, which bans all businesses and community groups from supplying lightweight plastic bags. They can’t even give them away for free after this date.

The ban will be extended on 1 November 2022, to include single-use plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, bowls and plates as well as expanded polystyrene food service items, like cups and hamburger containers, single-use plastic cotton buds, and some personal care products containing plastic microbeads.

You may have noticed that some of your favourite takeaway food places have already made the switch from lightweight plastic bags to paper bags, from plastic cutlery to alternatives such as wood, from expanded polystyrene hamburger containers to cardboard or from plastic straws to none.

The National Retail Association has been working hard to educate businesses throughout NSW about the bans on lightweight plastic bags and single-use plastic items.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is the sole regulator and is working to raise awareness, monitor and enforce the bans.

NSW Plastics Ban compliance

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is working to raise awareness and education on the NSW Plastics Ban.

What are the next steps for consumers?

The NSW government is encouraging consumers to Stop it and Swap it. That means each of us playing an active role in changing the way we use plastic items in our daily lives. In practice, this might be as simple as taking one of your reusable bags when you go shopping for new shoes, “swapping” it for the store’s branded thick plastic bag.

You might also choose to “swap” single-use plastic cutlery and plates with alternatives made from a sustainable material like a reusable party set for your next family picnic or birthday party.

These little individual choices add up to make a big difference for how society uses and manages plastic during its lifecycle.