Plastic single-use straws - exemptions guidance

Find out who can supply and access plastic single-use straws in NSW.

From 1 November 2022, the supply of plastic single-use straws will be banned in NSW.

If you are an individual who needs a plastic single-use straw due to a disability or other medical need, or an individual/organisation acting on behalf of someone who does, you can continue to access plastic single-use straws where they are available.

Any individual or organisation can act on behalf of a person who needs a plastic single-use straw, including carers, family members, friends, teachers, aged-care facilities, Councils, cafés, schools and hospitals.

If you are a supplier of plastic single-use straws, you can continue to supply plastic single-use straws in certain circumstances.

After 1 November 2022 it will generally be an offence to supply a plastic single-use straw while carrying on a business in NSW. This includes supplying plastic single-use straws while carrying on an activity for commercial, charitable, sporting, educational or community purposes, and includes not-for-profit businesses, partnerships and sole traders.

The Plastic Single-Use Straw Exemption 2022 (PDF 63KB) allows the continued supply of plastic single-use straws to individuals who require a plastic single-use straw due to a disability or other medical need, or individual or organisation acting on their behalf. This helps these people continue to live safe and dignified lives.

Key points

You can continue to supply plastic single-use straws in certain circumstances (as explained further below) if you are a:

  • individual or organisation providing food or beverages for a commercial purpose (e.g. a restaurant, café, bar, including those onboard transport facilities such as trains, mobile food trucks, etc.)
  • individual or organisation providing food or beverages while carrying on an activity for charitable, sporting, educational or community purposes (e.g. a community organisation running a fundraiser sausage sizzle, a school canteen, a kiosk on a sporting ground, a library providing canapes for a book launch event etc.)
  • not-for-profit business, a partnership or a sole trader providing food or beverages (e.g. market stall)
  • medical facility (e.g. hospital, GP clinic)
  • dental clinic
  • care facility (e.g. nursing home, childcare centre)
  • patient transport facility (e.g. ambulance)
  • place where in-home care is being provided
  • place where emergency medical assistance is being provided (e.g. the scene of an accident where paramedics are providing care)
  • pharmacy or chemist
  • local government office accessible to the public (e.g. Council Administration Building)
  • registered charity
  • manufacturer, producer, wholesaler of plastic single-use straws, or
  • online supplier of plastic single-use straws.

If you fall into one of the above categories, you may choose to continue to supply plastic single-use straws, however you are not required to under the PRCE Act or the exemption.

Unless you are a manufacturer, producer, wholesaler or online supplier, you do not need to ask the individual requesting a plastic single-use straw for proof that they require it for themselves or someone else who may have a disability or medical need. The EPA recommends you do not ask (for privacy reasons). You will not get in trouble for not asking.

Integrated plastic single-use straws

The supply of plastic single-use straws that are integrated to packaging by a machine-automated process (e.g. a sealed straw attached to a juice box by a machine) is not currently banned, but will be banned from 1 January 2025. For further information, see ‘integrated packaging’ in Schedule 1 of the PRCE Act.

Guidance for each supplier category

Hospitality includes those providing food or beverages for charitable, sporting, education, community, and not-for-profit purposes, charities, and local government offices.

The requirements apply to you if you are:

  • an individual or organisation providing food or beverages for a commercial purpose (e.g. a restaurant, café, bar, including those onboard transport facilities such as trains, mobile food trucks)
  • an individual or organisation providing food or beverages while carrying on an activity for charitable, sporting, educational or community purposes (e.g. a community organisation running a fundraiser sausage sizzle, a school canteen, a kiosk on a sporting ground, a library providing canapes for a book launch event)
  • a not-for-profit business, a partnership or a sole trader providing food or beverages (e.g. market stall)
  • a registered charity, or
  • a local government office accessible to the public (e.g. Council Administration Building).

Requirements

  • You can give a plastic single-use straw when asked by an individual who needs one due to disability or other medical need, or an individual or organisation acting on their behalf.
  • You can only give a plastic single-use straw if asked. You cannot give a plastic single-use straw if you are not asked.
  • You cannot publicly display plastic single-use straws. You must keep the straws out of view, and in a location that is not publicly accessible, for example, behind the counter.
  • You can give more than one plastic single-use straw, if asked.
  • You must not charge a fee for the straw.
  • You do not need to ask the individual for proof that they need a plastic single-use straw for themselves or someone else, and the EPA recommends you do not ask (for privacy reasons). You will not get in trouble for not asking.
  • You can provide and sell packets of plastic single-use straws to someone who needs them due to a disability or other medical need, or an individual or organisation acting their behalf.
  • You can publicly display packets of plastic single-use straws for the above purposes.
  • You do not need to ask the individual for proof that they require the plastic single-use straws for themselves or someone they are acting on behalf of, and the EPA recommends you do not ask (for privacy reasons). You will not get in trouble for not asking.

Health care facilities include medical, dental, care, patient transport and places where in-home care or emergency medical assistance is being provided.

  • You can provide a plastic single-use straw to someone for health, medical or dental reasons in the following settings:
    • medical facilities (e.g. hospitals, GP clinics)
    • dental clinics
    • care facilities (e.g. nursing homes, childcare centres)
    • patient transport facilities (e.g. ambulances)
    • places where in-home care is being provided
    • places where emergency medical assistance is being provided (e.g. the scene of an accident where paramedics are providing care).
  • You can provide more than one plastic single-use straw to that person.
  • You cannot charge a fee for the straw.

If you are a manufacturer, producer or wholesaler of plastic single-use straws, you may supply these, after undertaking due diligence that the supply of the plastic single-use straws is to:

  • an individual or organisation that is allowed to supply plastic single-use plastic straws:
    • an individual or organisation providing food or beverages for a commercial purpose (e.g. a restaurant, café, bar, including those onboard transport facilities such as trains, mobile food trucks)
    • an individual or organisation providing food or beverages while carrying on an activity for charitable, sporting, educational or community purposes (e.g. a community organisation running a fundraiser sausage sizzle, a school canteen, a kiosk on a sporting ground, a library providing canapes for a book launch event)
    • a not-for-profit business, a partnership or a sole trader providing food or beverages (e.g. market stall)
    • a medical facility (e.g. hospital, GP clinic)
    • a dental clinic
    • a care facility (e.g. nursing home, childcare centre)
    • a patient transport facility (e.g. ambulance)
    • a place where in-home care is being provided
    • a pharmacy or chemist
    • a local government office accessible to the public (e.g. Council Administration Building)
    • a registered charity (you can search the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission’s database to check if the charity is registered)
    • an online supplier of plastic single-use straws
    • a wholesaler of plastic single-use straws
  • an individual who requires one due to a disability or other medical need, or an individual or organisation acting on their behalf. 

Due diligence

Perform due diligence to satisfy yourself that the supply of plastic single-use straws is to an organisation or individual that:

  • is allowed to supply plastic single-use straws as set out in the exemption (and listed above), or
  • needs them, due to a disability or other medical need (either their own or that of someone they are acting on behalf of).

This may involve undertaking relevant checks or having mechanisms in place, such as requiring a declaration or email confirmation before purchase. 

Consider whether any further inquiries or measures are necessary depending on the circumstances. For example:

  • A factor that can affect what measures are necessary is the volume of straws requested: more inquiries are likely to be needed where an organisation places an order for a large volume of straws, when compared to where an individual places an order for a small volume of straws. A further inquiry that you could make where you receive an order for a large volume of straws is to review the organisation’s website to confirm the identity and purpose of the organisation.

If you are an online supplier of plastic single-use straws (e.g. an online marketplace), you may sell plastic single-use straws to individuals who require them due to disability or other medical need, or an individual or organisation acting on their behalf.

The EPA recommends that you undertake relevant checks or have mechanisms in place (e.g. requiring a declaration or email confirmation prior to purchase) to assure yourself that the supply of the plastic single-use straws is to a person as outlined in the dot point above.

If you are a manufacturer, producer or wholesaler of plastic single-use straws and you sell the straws via an online platform, you are not considered an online supplier. Please instead refer to the guidance for manufacturers, producers and wholesalers.

Quick reference guide for suppliers

Note: 'Straw' refers to a plastic single-use straw.

Note: Read this table in conjunction with the guidance above.

Type of supplier

Who can you supply to?

Can you charge a fee?

Can you freely give the straw or must you be requested?

Do you need to ask for proof?

Can you supply more than one straw?

Can you publicly display the straws?

Individual or organisation providing food or beverages for a commercial purpose

An individual who needs a plastic single-use straw due to disability or other medical need, or individual/organisation acting on their behalf

No

Can only give a straw when requested.

 

Straw must not be freely accessible without the assistance of the supplier

No

Yes, if asked

No

Individual or organisation providing food or beverages for charitable, sporting, educational or community purposes

Not-for-profit business, a partnership or a sole trader providing food or beverages

Registered charity

Local government office accessible to the public (e.g. Council Administration Building)

Pharmacy or chemist

An individual who needs a plastic single-use straw due to disability or other medical need, or individual/organisation acting on their behalf

Yes

Can freely supply the straw

No

Yes, can sell in multiples

Yes

Health facility (medical, dental, care, patient transport, premises where in-home care is provided, premises where emergency medical, health or dental care is being provided)

An individual who needs one for health, medical or dental reasons

No

Can freely give the straw

No

Yes

Straws should be easily accessible to individuals who need one, as well as easily accessible to staff so they can provide straws to individuals who need one.

 

Other than that, it is not recommended that straws be on public display in such a manner that an individual who does not need a straw could freely access the straw

Manufacturer, producer or wholesaler

A business or organisation that is allowed to supply plastic single-use plastic straws (i.e. the suppliers listed in the above rows of this table, as well as other wholesalers).

 

An individual who needs one due to a disability or other medical need, or individual/organisation acting on their behalf

Yes

Can freely supply the straw

Yes – you must undertake due diligence to satisfy yourself that the supply is to a business or organisation that is allowed to supply straws, or to an individual who needs straws (or someone acting on their behalf)

Yes

It is not recommended that you do, but they should be easily accessible for those who are allowed to purchase straws

Online supplier (excluding online manufacturers, producers and wholesalers)

An individual who needs a plastic single-use straw due to disability or other medical need, or individual/organisation acting on their behalf

Yes

Can freely supply the straw

No, however the EPA recommends that you undertake relevant checks to ensure the supply is to an individual who needs straws (or someone acting on their behalf)

Yes

N/A (no physical shopfront, but can advertise online)

You cannot be fined for buying, asking for, or using a plastic single-use straw if you're accessing them for your personal medical needs or for the medical needs of someone you are acting on behalf of. The ban only applies where the plastic single-use straw is supplied in the course of carrying on a business.

If you need a plastic single-use straw due to a disability or other medical need, or are acting on behalf of someone who does, there are places where you can:

  • You can request a plastic single-use straw in the following settings, from:
    • individuals or organisations providing food or beverages for a commercial purpose (e.g. restaurants, cafés, bars (including those onboard transport facilities such as trains, mobile food trucks etc), market stalls etc.)
    • individuals or organisations providing food or beverages for charitable, sporting, education, community or other not-for-profit purposes (e.g. a community organisation running a fundraiser sausage sizzle, a school canteen, a kiosk on a sporting ground, a library providing canapes for a book launch event etc)
    • local government offices accessible to the public (e.g. Council Administration Building)
    • charities
  • You cannot be charged a fee for the straw in the above settings.
  • You don’t need to ‘prove’ that you (or a person you are asking for) needs the straw, and providers should not ask you for proof.
  • You can request more than one plastic single-use straw if you need it.
  • Someone acting on your behalf can ask for a straw for you.

Hospitality venues, such as restaurants and cafés, are allowed to stock plastic single-use straws, however they are not required to. You may wish to bring a plastic single-use straw with you when visiting such places.

  • You can be given, or ask for, a plastic single-use straw in the following settings:
    • medical facility (e.g. hospital, GP clinic)
    • dental clinic
    • care facility (e.g. nursing home, childcare centre)
    • patient transport facility (e.g. ambulance)
    • place where in-home care is being provided
  • Providers cannot charge you a fee for the straw.
  • Someone acting on your behalf can ask for a straw for you.
  • You can continue to buy plastic single-use straws (where stocked) from:
    • online suppliers (e.g. online marketplaces)
    • pharmacies and chemists
    • manufacturers, producers and wholesalers
  • Someone acting on your behalf can buy straws for you.

When buying plastic single-use straws from manufacturers, producers, wholesalers or online suppliers, you may be asked to confirm why you need the straws (e.g. for a disability or medical need).

When buying plastic single-use straws from pharmacies and chemists, you don’t need to ‘prove’ that you, or the person you are asking for, need the straw (and they should not be asking you for proof).