New NSW plastic laws ban singe-use plastics including plastic bags, plates, bowls & cutlery

16 November 2021. Australia’s leading ocean conservation organisation has congratulated the New South Wales government for passing legislation to ban single-use plastics next year, including the last minute addition of plastic plates and bowls.

Under the new laws passed today (Tuesday 16 November), lightweight plastic shopping bags will finally be banned in approximately six months, bringing NSW in line with the rest of the country. Plastic bags are considered one of the most lethal plastics for ocean wildlife, entangling turtles and seabirds or causing life threatening internal blockages when eaten. 

From 1 November 2022, plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, expanded polystyrene food service items, plastic cotton bud sticks, and microbeads in cosmetics will also be banned in NSW.

NSW Labor successfully amended the proposed laws to add plastic plates and bowls to the ban, which brings them in line with bans proposed or enacted in Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia. The amendment was supported by the government, subject to the exclusion of bowls with lids such as those used for hot liquids.

Australian Marine Conservation Society (AMCS) plastics campaign manager Shane Cucow said the laws have turned NSW from a laggard to a leader in the fight against ocean plastics.

“As the state with the largest plastic footprint, these new laws will substantially reduce the plastics flowing into the ocean, saving the dolphins, whales and seabirds that call NSW home,” he said.

“Plastic bags, utensils and straws are some of the most commonly found plastics along our coasts and in our oceans.

“We thank the government for listening to ocean lovers, who have been demanding action to clean up plastic pollution and restore our beautiful marine environment.

“By adding disposable plastic plates and bowls to the laws, the government has brought the laws into line with other states, ensuring consistency across the country.”

Mr Cucow said it was important the laws were soon expanded to include other lethal plastics, expressing disappointment that the government chose not to act on balloons.

An amendment to ban balloon releases was moved by the Animal Justice Party and supported by Labor and the Greens, however it failed by one vote.

“New South Wales and the ACT are the only jurisdictions with laws that explicitly allow the reckless practice of releasing balloons into the sky,” added Mr Cucow.

“Balloons are the biggest plastic killer of seabirds, 32 times more likely to kill birds than hard plastic waste.

“It’s time to end this dangerous practice once and for all.”

Assets

A table comparing Australian state and territory commitments on single-use plastics is available here

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