Information for shoppers

Which bags are banned?

Plastic bags made of polyethylene polymer with a thickness of less than 35 microns are banned. These are the thin plastic bags with handles which are usually supplied at supermarkets check-outs in states where a ban is not in place (e.g. NSW and Victoria).

Which bags are NOT banned?

  • Barrier bags – the type dispensed from a roll to hold items such as loose fruit and vegetables.
  • Heavier reusable plastic bags – the type used by clothing and department stores and now sold at many supermarket checkouts in the ACT.
  • Woven cotton or sturdy bags such as ‘green bags’ designed for multiple use.
  • Compostable biodegradable bags that have been certified to Australian Standard AS 4736-2006.
  • Paper bags.
  • Bin liners.

What about degradable bags?

A range of bags claim to be degradable in different conditions. Some degradable bags are made partly or wholly of polyethylene. Only compostable biodegradable bags that meet Australian Standard AS 4736-2006 are excluded from the ban. These bags are usually made of starch or other compostable materials.

Does the ban apply to all retailers?

Yes. Every retailer needs to comply.

How is the legislation enforced?

The ban is enforced in the ACT by Access Canberra. Access Canberra aims to achieve compliance with laws rather than through prosecution. However, if retailers do not comply with the imposed ban, Access Canberra has the ability to issue an infringement notice or prosecute to stop the supply of the banned plastic bags in the Territory.

What about bin liners?

Bin liners are not banned. However, we encourage people to consider the range of alternative options available. While there is no one simple replacement for bin liners, we can be most environmentally friendly by reducing waste, especially by putting food and organic waste in a compost bin. We can also reuse other types of plastic bags (such as bread bags) to wrap rubbish, or consider using newspaper to wrap rubbish before putting it in the bin.

How do I pick up after my pet?

In some dog-friendly parks and reserves, plastic bags are available to scoop animal waste. These bags are not affected by the ban. Otherwise, use newspaper or re-use a barrier bag or bread bag.

How do I dispose of things like nappies?

Nappy bags are not banned, nor are barrier bags or ‘bags on a roll’ which keep meat, fish, fruit and vegetables separate from our other shopping. They can be used for nappy disposal as can other packaging such as bread bags.

Is the ban supported by legislation?

In December 2010, the ACT Legislative Assembly passed legislation to ban lightweight plastic bags in the ACT. The Plastic Shopping Bags Ban Act 2010 can be downloaded from www.legislation.act.gov.au.

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