Plastic bags

Plastic Bag Ban is coming image

The ACT’s Plastic Bag Ban came into effect on 1 November 2011 with the aim of restricting the use of single-use, lightweight plastic shopping bags and encouraging people to use re-usable shopping bags.

The ACT Government is committed to reducing plastic bag use in the ACT. These plastic bags litter our environment and stay in our landfill for generations.

Will the ban apply to all retailers?

Yes. Every retailer will need to comply and the transition and ban dates will be the same across the ACT.

When does the plastic bag ban start?

The Plastic Bag Ban came into effect on 1 November 2011.

Single-use, lightweight polyethylene plastic bags (35 microns or less) cannot be provided by retailers for carrying goods from 1 November 2011.

Retailers will be able to charge for alternative bags that they supply.

Which bags are banned?

Single-use, lightweight polyethylene plastic bags (35 microns or less) will be banned. These thin plastic bags with handles are used to carry retail goods. They are most commonly supplied at supermarkets and take-away food outlets.

Which bags are NOT banned?

  • 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
  • Paper bags
  • Bin liners for purchase

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 some form of starch or other compostable material.

Further information

Phone: Access Canberra on 13 22 81


Further information

Useful information for retailers - This is where retailers can find information about the ban and how to prepare for it.

Useful information for the community - This is where the community can find information about the ban including which bags they can and cannot use

Which bags will be banned and which are allowed?

Useful information on Australian Standard plastic products - The list is supplied by the Plastic and Chemicals Industry Association and it should be noted that only four products on this list comply with the Australian Standard. The ACT Government does not endorse any suppliers of these products.

The ACT plastic bag ban followed a four month transitional period which began on 1 July.The consultation process sought views from members of the community about how they use plastic bags in and around the home, as well as their opinions on a possible ban or levy. The plastic bags community consultation was undertaken by consultants Manidis Roberts on behalf of the ACT Environment and Sustainable Development Directorate.

The ban followed a comprehensive study of community attitudes towards the use of plastic bags in the retail environment carried out in August 2009. 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

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