The NSW Plastics Action Plan was launched in June 2021 to manage plastic throughout its lifecycle – from generation through to production, supply and reducing plastic waste.
The four long-term outcomes set out in the plan aim to:
- reduce plastic waste generation
- make the most of our plastic resources
- reduce plastic leakage
- improve our understanding of the future of plastics.
These outcomes will be achieved through the phase out of certain problematic or unnecessary plastic products, accelerating the transition to more sustainable and less harmful plastic products by funding innovation and research, and better managing the leakage of problem plastic litter.
Phase-out of single use plastic items
Plastic Reduction and Circular Economy Act 2021
On 29 November 2021, the Plastic Reduction and Circular Economy Act 2021 was assented to, giving effect to the government's commitment to phase out the supply of certain problematic single-use plastic items and set a design standard to prevent the supply of plastic microbeads in some rinse off personal care products.
The EPA is the sole regulator of the Plastic Reduction and Circular Economy Act 2021 (PRCE Act).
The Act currently bans the supply of the following in the course of carrying on a business, including compostable or bioplastic alternatives. The definitions of each item are contained in Schedule 1.
From 1 June 2022:
- lightweight plastic bags (excluding barrier bags, such as bags designed and intended to be used to contain food waste, household waste or human or animal waste)
From 1 November 2022:
- single-use plastic straws*
- single-use plastic cutlery (including plastic chopsticks and sporks)
- single-use plastic stirrers
- single-use plastic bowls (excluding bowls with a spill-proof lid whether separate or attached, for example those used for a take-away soup)
- single-use plastic plates
- single-use plastic cotton buds
- expanded polystyrene (EPS) food service items
- plastic microbeads in rinse-off personal care products
* The EPA has granted an exemption to permit the supply of single-use plastic straws to people with a disability or other medical need. Read more about exemptions.
Until 1 January 2025, the bans do not apply to integrated packaging, being plastic items that are, by way of a machine-automated process:
- an integrated part of packaging material used to seal or contain food or beverages, including pre-packaged portions of food or beverages, or
- included within or attached to packaging material used to seal or contain food or beverages, including pre-packaged portions of food or beverages.
Examples include a spoon sealed within the packaging of a yoghurt cup by a machine-automated process, or a sealed EPS cup containing dry noodles with soup powder by a machine-automated process.
As the sole regulator of the PRCE Act, the EPA plays a pivotal role in delivering this ground-breaking legislation including by regulating and monitoring certain types of plastic items supplied into or within NSW. Read more about the EPA's regulatory role.
To further support the key outcomes from the NSW Plastics Action Plan, the EPA will also provide incentives for industry (such as grants) to encourage greater innovation and investment in sustainable alternatives and increase the reuse and recovery of plastics.
The EPA will work with stakeholders, such as suppliers and retailers, in raising awareness of, and ensuring compliance with, the plastics phase-outs. If you have questions or concerns about compliance with the plastics phase-outs, please contact email@example.com.
This important work ensures we continue to deliver on our purpose to ensure a healthy and thriving environment for the future.