Ban Plastic Bags

A number of jurisdictions have already banned plastic shopping bags, including South Australia in 2009, the ACT and NT in 2011 and Tasmania in 2013. Now it's time for NSW to do the same

What bags would be affected

Plastic bags of less than 35 microns thickness would be banned. This includes lightweight single-use plastic bags such as grocery bags with handles and other lightweight bags used to carry away products from retailers, such as take away food or alcohol.

The following bags would ­not be included in the ban:

  • Barrier bags – the type dispensed from a roll to hold items such as loose fruit and vegetables
  • Heavier style retail bags – the type usually used by clothing and department stores
  • Sturdy bags designed for multiple use such as ‘green’ bags
  • Biodegradable compostable bags that meet the Australian Standard 4736-2006
  • Paper bags
  • Bin liners for purchase
  • Zip lock storage bags
  • Plastic bags that are an integral part of the packaging (such as bread, frozen foods, ice bags or bait bags).
  • Re-usable plastic bags

Some communities in NSW like Kangaroo Valley, Huskisson on Jervis Bay and Manly have taken steps independently to reduce plastic bag use, either at a council level, or with the cooperation of local retailers and customers. State-based regulation can help to accelerate this change, reduce consumption of plastic and reduce the entry of plastic bags into the environment. 

Environmentally devastating 

Plastic pollution is a major waste problem in NSW, contributing to landfill and polluting the sates waterways, coastlines and oceans.

  • Australians use more than 4 billion plastic grocery-style bags each year.
  • An estimated 50 million of these bags enter the environment, blown from bins or landfill, and often ending up in waterways and the ocean.
  • It is estimated each bag is used just 12 minutes on average.
  • A plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to break down.
  • Plastic bag litter kills tens of thousands of birds, whales, dolphins, seals and turtles every year.
  • These bags are made from fossil fuels, a non-renewable resource that requires environmentally damaging mining and drilling to access.


Policy Category: