Compliance approach for 1 November plastic bans

Businesses in NSW are no longer able to supply a number of problematic plastic items from 1 November 2022, or to have them in stock for the purpose of supplying them.

The following items are banned from 1 November 2022:

  • plastic single-use straws*
  • plastic single-use stirrers
  • plastic single-use cutlery
  • plastic single-use cotton buds
  • plastic single-use bowls (except where designed or intended to have a spill-proof lid)
  • plastic single-use plates
  • expanded polystyrene (EPS) food service items
  • certain rinse-off personal care products containing plastic microbeads

The bans apply to anyone carrying on a business including retailers, suppliers, educational and medical providers, sporting, charity, community groups and not-for-profit organisations, whether a fee for the items is charged or not.

* Note there is an exemption in place for straws for people with a disability or medical need. For information on other exemptions visit: exemptions guidance.

Regulation and enforcement

As the sole regulator for the bans, the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) will use a proportionate, risk-based approach, considering the whole range of our regulatory tools, to influence, enable, monitor and enforce compliance. We will use proactive intelligence-based approaches to regulation to identify and educate businesses that may have a high risk of non-compliance.

While we are in the introductory phase of the ban, we will focus on an education and awareness first approach to support businesses to switch to more sustainable alternatives.

Addressing non-compliance

Any non-compliance will be assessed on a case-by-case basis using a risk based approach and considering the EPA Regulatory Strategy and Regulatory Policy (PDF 6MB).

We understand there may be different circumstances for different businesses and people, and there is no ‘one size fits all’ response. We will consider relevant factors when deciding on the appropriate course of action, which may include any available evidence of whether a business or person has taken steps to prepare for the new requirements and its efforts to comply.

The EPA Regulatory Policy sets out a range of matters that the EPA may consider, where appropriate and relevant, when responding to non-compliance. This may include the attitude, behaviour and intent of the business.  Enforcement action could include a range of tools, including warnings, official cautions, issuing of compliance notices and penalty notices or prosecution. When considering whether or not to prosecute, we review the matters set out in the EPA’s Prosecution Guidelines.

Lightweight bag ban

From 1 June 2022, the supply of lightweight bags 35 microns or less with handles was banned.  We are pleased to see most businesses are complying with this requirement. The EPA will continue to monitor the plastic bag ban, educating businesses and the community and responding to public reports of suspected non-compliance. As the time from the commencement of the ban extends, the EPA will consider taking stronger action in relation to non-compliance where it considers this appropriate.  

More information and resources

To help businesses adjust to these new bans, the NSW Government has partnered with the National Retail Association to provide the following support:

  • Businesses (including retailers, suppliers, community groups and not-for-profit organisations), can contact the National Retail Association for advice on transitioning to compliant stock, engaging with suppliers and customers, and preparing for further bans on 1800 844 946 or email sustainability@nra.net.au.
  • Weekly online Q&A sessions held every Friday at 10.00am and anyone can register to attend
  • Access to resources for businesses including materials in languages other than English.
  • From Monday 24 October, businesses can access a service being provided by the National Retail Association to help facilitate commercial solutions and outcomes related to the management of excess stock of items covered by the 1 November ban.