Plastic-lined paper plates and bowls - exemptions guidance

Find out more about the exemption and what it means for businesses and communities.

The Plastic-lined Paper Plates and Bowls Exemption 2022 (PDF 59KB) is made under the Plastic Reduction and Circular Economy Act 2021 (PRCE Act). 

What is banned, and what is exempt?

From 1 November 2022, it will be an offence under the PCRE Act to supply a range of single-use plastic items into or within NSW while carrying on a business. This includes supplying plastic single-use plates and bowls while carrying on an activity for commercial, charitable, sporting, educational or community purposes, and includes not-for-profit businesses, partnerships and sole traders. Under the PRCE Act, single-use plates and bowls are plastic items if they are made wholly or partially of plastic.

The EPA is issuing a one-off, time bound exemption for plates and bowls that are made of paper or cardboard but have a plastic lining or coating. This includes products like takeaway cardboard and bagasse bowls without lids and printed or coloured paper ‘party’ plates and bowls.

The exemption will end on 31 October 2024.

What does the exemption mean for me?

  • Anyone carrying on a business can continue supplying plastic-lined paper plates and bowls until 31 October 2024.
  • From 1 November 2024, it will be an offence to supply plastic-lined paper plates and bowls. This includes supplying to both businesses and consumers.
  • From now until the exemption ends, you should focus on exhausting your existing and pre-ordered stock, and sourcing and procuring suitable alternatives.
  • If you have any leftover stock after the exemption ends, you will need to properly dispose of it. If your existing service provider cannot accept the items, you can search for a recycler at Business Recycling.
  • Supplying to customers outside NSW after the exemption ends is not an offence in NSW, but you should be aware that similar bans may be in place in other jurisdictions. 
  • You can continue supplying plastic-lined paper plates and bowls to customers in NSW until 31 October 2024, but you should anticipate that demand for these products in NSW is likely to drop before then, as businesses look to run down their stocks before the exemption ends.
  • Demand for suitable plastic-free alternative products is likely to increase.
  • It will be an offence for you to supply plastic-lined paper plates and bowls into or within NSW from 1 November 2024. This includes supplying to both businesses and consumers.
  • If you have any leftover stock after the exemption ends, you will need to dispose of it properly. If your existing service provider cannot accept the items, you can search for a recycler at Business Recycling.
  • Supplying to customers outside NSW after the exemption ends is not an offence, but you should be aware that similar bans may be in place in other jurisdictions. 
  • Businesses can supply you with plastic-lined paper plates and bowls until 31 October 2024.
  • From 1 November 2024, businesses can no longer sell or supply you with plastic-lined paper plates and bowls in retail or any other settings (for example in food courts or at organised events).
  • If you have leftover paper plates and bowls after the exemption ends, you can continue to use them at home or at private gatherings, but you cannot supply them to other people as part of a business or community activity.

Plastic single-use plates and bowls were added to the list of plastic items to be banned in November 2022, during passage of the Plastics Reduction and Circular Economy Act 2021 legislation last year, to align with bans being implemented or proposed by other states and territories. They were initially listed in the NSW Plastics Action Plan 2021 for phase-out review in 2024.

The EPA has granted a temporary two-year exemption for the supply of plastic-lined paper plates and bowls following feedback from suppliers and manufacturers of these products who told us that there is currently a lack of food-safe printed alternatives, and shortages of non-printed alternatives.

The exemption will provide time for manufacturers to scale up their supply chains and develop, test and refine alternative products. It will also give businesses time to source alternatives or implement different business models before plastic-lined paper plates and bowls are phased out.

The NSW Government is phasing out problematic and single-use plastics to help protect our environment and improve environmental outcomes for everyone.

Single-use plastic plates and bowls are commonly littered, can be difficult to sort at recycling centres due to their shape, and alternatives to most types of plastic single-use plates and bowls are already well-developed and fit for purpose. 

The definition of ‘supply’ an item in the PRCE Act, includes:

  • selling, supplying, re-supplying or distributing the item
  • receiving or possessing the item for the purpose of supplying it to someone else
  • offering to supply the item, for example through advertising, websites or brochures
  • displaying the item with the intention of supplying it
  • making the item available to a person
  • providing the item to a person.

You are supplying an item whether or not you are charging a fee for the item, or you are supplying the item incidentally to, or as part of, the supply of another thing (for example as part of a meal).

You cannot continue to supply plastic-lined paper plates and bowls after the exemption ends on 31 October 2024, even if the products were purchased while the exemption was still in effect. You must dispose of any left-over plastic-lined paper plates and bowls appropriately. If your existing service provider cannot accept the items, you can search for a recycler at Business Recycling.

No. Once the exemption ends, you cannot donate or give away your leftover stock to charity, sporting, education, not-for-profit or community organisations. These organisations will not be allowed to supply plastic-lined paper plates and bowls to their customers either.

Dumping existing stock on charities adds to the already significant issue of illegally dumped, damaged and poorly conditioned donations which costs charities millions of dollars a year for clean-up and disposal and detracts from their core work. Illegal dumping at charity bins and shop fronts can attract fines.

It is important to make a plan for using up your stock well in advance of the exemption ending. Find more information about preparing for the bans on single use plastic items.

No. If you have leftover plastic-lined paper plates and bowls at home, you can continue to use them after 1 November 2024, such as for parties, picnics and other private celebrations with your friends and family, as long as you do not supply them to other people while carrying on a business.

The offence for supplying single-use plastic plates and bowls only applies while you are carrying on a business. Under the PRCE Act, carrying on a business includes:

  • carrying on an activity for commercial, charitable, sporting, educational or community purposes
  • carrying on a not-for-profit business, a partnership or a sole trader.

No. You cannot continue supplying these items after 31 October 2024, even if they are only being used for arts and crafts. This is because the items are banned based on what they are designed and intended for, rather than the actual end use or activity. Organisations providing educational services or activities are included in the bans, along with all other businesses.

It is important to make a plan for using up your stock well in advance of the exemption ending. Find more information about preparing for the bans on single use plastic items.

Yes. If you have plastic-lined paper plates and bowls that you have already bought, you cannot continue supplying them after 31 October 2024 to your clients or other community members. Organisations providing charitable, sporting, educational or community services or activities are included in the bans, along with all other businesses.

It is important to make a plan for using up your stock well in advance of the exemption ending. Find more information about preparing for the bans on single use plastic items.

During consultation about this exemption, manufacturers advised they are developing unlined colourful paper plates and bowls that are made with food‑safe inks. These alternatives should be available before the exemption ends on 31 October 2024. There are also many non-printed alternatives already available, including plates and bowls made of palm leaves, wood, sugarcane, wheat bran and plain unlined paper, as well as reusable plastic bowls and plates.