Which bags are banned and which are allowed?

Which bags are banned?

Single use plastic bagSingle use plastic bag stack

Single-use plastic shopping bags

The plastic bag ban prohibits retailers from providing single-use, lightweight polyethylene plastic bags (less than 35 microns). This includes degradable plastic bags (as opposed to compostable biodegradable bags made from plant starch).

Retailers should check with their supplier if unsure about the composition or thickness of bags.

Are degradable bags banned?

Yes. Degradable plastic bags (less than 35 microns in thickness) are banned in the ACT. Degradable bags are still made of plastic, but have an additive which encourages them to break apart more quickly than standard plastic bags. They cause similar environmental harm to standard plastic bags which is why they are also banned. They’re different to biodegradable bags, which are made from plant starch rather than plastic. Only compostable biodegradable bags that meet  Australian Standard AS 4736-2006 are excluded from the ban.

Which bags are allowed?

Barrier bag used for loose produce.

Barrier bags

These bags are dispensed from a roll and made available when you’re shopping to keep meat, fish, fruit and vegetables separate from other grocery items.

Heavier retail plastic bagHeavier retail plastic bag

Heavier reusable retail plastic bags

These are made of thicker plastic and are the type used by clothing and department stores. They’re also now sold at most ACT supermarkets.

These bags can be reused many times, however they only have a better environmental outcome than single-use shopping bags if reused at least four times, so remember to take them with you when shopping.

Reusable shopping bag

Reusable bags

Woven cotton or sturdy bags such as ‘green bags’ designed for multiple use.

Biodegradable, plant-based shopping bag

Biodegradable bags

Compostable biodegradable bags made of plant starch (not plastic) that have been certified to Australian Standard AS 4736-2006.

Single-use biodegradable bags still result in wasted resources, so remember to take your own bags.

Paper shopping bag

Paper bags

Paper bags cause less environmental problems than plastic bags as they biodegrade quickly.

Paper bags still result in wasted resources, so try to remember to take your own bags.