Plastic shopping bag ban

The ACT banned single-use plastic shopping bags on 1 November 2011.

Single-use plastic shopping bags litter our environment, harm wildlife and require valuable resources to manufacture. The Northern Territory, South Australia and Tasmania have also banned single-use plastic shopping bags. More states and territories will likely follow.

The ban has reduced plastic bag use, with shoppers encouraged to bring their own bags. Overall the ban has reduced the volume of plastic bag waste going to landfill by around one-third.

The ban applies to all retailers in the ACT for single-use, lightweight polyethylene polymer plastic bags that are less than 35 microns in thickness (these are the thin plastic bags with handles that were typically supplied at supermarkets check-outs). The ban does not apply to other bags such as barrier bags for fruit and vegetables.


The ACT plastic bag ban was reviewed in 2012 and 2014, including through community surveys. In 2018 the ban was independently reviewed by the ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment, Professor Kate Auty. Significant technical analysis undertaken by the Australian National University supported this review.

More information

Phone Access Canberra on 13 22 81 or email for more information.