About the Ban

Plastics have become a part of everyday life. They are inexpensive, convenient and used in many applications.  However, many single‑use plastics either end up as litter or landfill.

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When littered, plastic items – including most compostable plastics - do not naturally biodegrade in the environment, and they may persist for hundreds of years or break into fragments which can cause harm to the environment.

Single-use plastics also often end up in landfill as we fail to place them in appropriate recycling bins or they cannot be economically sorted and recycled in current facilities.

The WA Government is implementing strategies to reduce the impacts of single-use plastics, including bans on problematic plastic items.

Key information about the ban

Why is the ban being introduced?

Plastics have become a part of everyday life. They are inexpensive, convenient and used in many applications. However, many single‑use plastics either end up as litter or landfill.

In 2019, the WA Government provided the opportunity for input on a range of items and options to pursue from 2024. The Government received over 9,400 submissions which indicated strong support for reducing the impacts of single-use plastics through a range of approaches including bans, product design, waste infrastructure, and widespread education.

On 13 June 2021 the State Government announced it was fast-tracking Western Australia’s Plan for Plastics.

The fast-tracked Plan for Plastics includes:

  • Stage 1 ban - commenced 1 January 2022, with enforcement from 1 July 2022 for most items.
  • Stage 2 ban – planned to commence 1 January 2023, with enforcement likely from 1 July 2023.

Input on the Stage 1 ban was sought via information sessions in August 2021 and an advisory group consisting of environmental, community and industry stakeholders.

The Stage 1 ban commenced 1 January 2022 with bans on supply to be enforceable by 1 July 2022 (and 1 October 2022 for cold cups).

The Stage 2 ban is planned to commence 1 January 2023, however delayed enforcement similar to the current ban approach will be considered. The Stage 2 ban includes disposable plastic items such as: produce bags, coffee cups, lids for food and drink containers, polystyrene packaging, microbeads, cotton bud sticks, and oxo-degradable additives. Opportunities to provide input and feedback on the Stage 2 regulations will be provided in 2022.

REGISTER FOR UPDATES

What items are banned?

Banned from 1 July 2022:

  • All plastic shopping bags with handles
  • Disposable plastic utensils - straws, stirrers and cutlery
  • Disposable plastic foodware without lids - plates, bowls and food containers
  • Expanded polystyrene food containers and trays

Banned from 1 October 2022:

  • Disposable plastic cups for cold drinks

The ban applies to:

  • conventional plastics made from fossil fuels, as well as plant-based plastics (limited exemptions apply)
  • items made of plastic in whole or part (including linings, coatings and laminates)
  • items sold or given away
  • items supplied individually or in packets

The ban does not apply to:

  • items prepackaged offsite in food or beverage products (eg. straw attached to juice box)
  • items intended for supply outside WA or business-to-business transport
  • plastic straws provided in certain situations for people with a disability or healthcare need

Balloon releases are also banned from 1 July 2022, however balloons are not banned.

See detailed information on banned items and the alternatives allowed >

When does the ban come into effect?

The ban commenced 1 January 2022, but will be enforceable at staggered dates through 2022 to provide time for businesses to comply.

  • 1 January 2022: It is illegal to provide false or misleading information about banned items.
  • 1 July 2022: It is illegal to supply banned items except cups. It is also illegal to release a balloon into the air.
  • 1 October 2022: It is illegal to supply banned cups.

Further bans are planned to commence 1 January 2023, however delayed enforcement similar to the current ban approach will be considered. Opportunities to provide input and feedback on these regulations will be provided in 2022. 

REGISTER FOR UPDATES

Who does the ban apply to?

The ban applies to anyone who supplies prohibited items in Western Australia.

  • Retail or hospitality businesses such as restaurants, cafes, bars, hotels, takeaway food outlets, party supply stores, discount stores, supermarkets, market stalls, online stores, home delivery services, and any other retailer must not supply banned items.
  • Manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and wholesalers must not supply banned items in WA. As with all businesses, suppliers must not provide any false or misleading information about banned items.
  • Community groups, government bodies and not-for-profits, such as charities, welfare services, religious bodies, education providers, sporting groups, and fundraising events must not supply banned items. This includes items used as part of a service, for daily activities, or during events or fundraising activities.

Exemptions apply in certain settings to allow the supply of single-use plastic straws to people with a disability or healthcare need.

See FAQs below for more information

Businesses (such as distribution centres and online stores) can supply a banned item to a person outside WA, but we recommend checking for similar bans in other jurisdictions.

How will the ban be implemented and enforced?

The WA Plan for Plastics is being implemented by the WA Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER).

DWER will firstly work with businesses and organisations to ensure they understand their obligations, and has launched a state-wide consumer awareness campaign in early 2022.

From the enforcement dates, it will be an offence to do any of the following:

  • supply a banned plastic item
  • provide false or misleading information about a banned plastic item
  • release, or cause/permit the release, of a balloon

Fines of $5000 per offence apply.

DWER has engaged the National Retail Association (NRA) to help businesses learn more about the ban and how to comply.

IMPORTANT:

Please be aware that penalties apply from 1 January 2022 for providing false or misleading information about items. If a retailer purchases from a supplier based on reasonable evidence that they thought the items were compliant, the supplier will be investigated.

We recommend that all retailers ask suppliers to provide confirmation in writing that items are compliant. Similarly, we recommend that suppliers supplying items outside WA add details to online product listings or ask clients to confirm that they know the items are banned in certain jurisdictions.

If you suspect a prohibited plastic item is being supplied or sold, you can make an enquiry or report to the department’s Pollution Watch hotline number (1300 784 782) or via email to pollutionwatch@dwer.wa.gov.au

On behalf of the WA Government, the National Retail Association is delivering a range of resources and activities to assist businesses, including:
• factsheets
• signage and point-of-sale materials
• translated resources
• thousands of in-person store visits
• information sessions
• a tollfree hotline.

The National Retail Association team can also provide advice to national or interstate businesses about single-use plastic bans in other locations across Australia.

The WA Government has announced that further amendments will be made to the regulations. A Stage 2 ban is planned to commence 1 January 2023, with bans on supply expected to be enforceable by 1 July 2023.

Items being considered for the Stage 2 ban include:

  • produce bags
  • coffee cups
  • lids for food and drink containers
  • polystyrene packaging
  • microbeads
  • cotton bud sticks
  • oxo-degradable additives

We understand that some businesses would like to prepare early so we recommend considering reusable or non-plastic alternatives where possible. Until the regulations are drafted, we cannot advise exactly which items will be banned or whether bioplastic alternatives will be permitted.

Opportunities to provide input and feedback on the Stage 2 ban will be provided in 2022. We encourage interested businesses to register for updates on this consultation process.

REGISTER FOR UPDATES

The National Retail Association has developed a Guide for Business which summarises key information provided on this website.

Frequently Asked Questions

The National Retail Association incorporates any updated information below but key updates are highlighted here.

On 17 December 2021, the Environmental Protection Regulations Amendment (Prohibited Plastics and Balloons) Regulations 2021 was passed by the WA Executive Council.

This amendment replaces the previous Environmental Protection (Plastic Bags) Regulations 2018.

View the Amended Bill here>

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) is responsible for implementing the legislation, and has provided comprehensive information for businesses, suppliers, not-for-profit organisations, and consumers. Consultation with industry, the disability sector and the public were performed to assess impacts and cater for particular needs.

Go to Government website>

The legislation includes detailed glossaries of terms and definitions.

The following are some of the key terms and definitions for handy reference. We do not recommend using these terms in isolation as they should be interpreted within the legislation.

  • plastic
    • (a) means a material made from or comprising organic polymers of plant or fossil fuel origin; and
    • (b) includes expanded polystyrene;
  • disposable plastic item means an item made wholly or partly out of plastic if -

    • (a) the item is designed to be disposed of after a single use or several uses; or

    • (b) the design and construction of the item is not sufficiently durable to enable the item to be kept and reused on an ongoing basis.

    • Government will provide further guidance on items claiming to be reusable.

  • A disposable plastic item is a prescribed plastic item if it is any of the following —
    • (a) an item of cutlery;
      (b) a drink stirrer;
      (c) a plate;
      (d) a food container (made from plastic that is not expanded polystyrene) without a lid;
      (e) a food container made from expanded polystyrene;
      (f) a lid made from expanded polystyrene for a food container;
      (g) a tray made from expanded polystyrene;
      (h) a bowl without a lid.
  • not a prescribed plastic item
    (a) a reusable cooler box made from expanded polystyrene;
    (b) a lid made from expanded polystyrene for a reusable cooler box;
    (c) a food container or bowl that is made from paperboard and certified as biodegradable.

Item definitions

  • bowl includes a container that —
    • (a) is designed to contain food; and
      (b) has a round rim and a flat base; and
      (c) tapers towards the base; and
      (d) holds at least 1 serve of food;
    • Note that bowls are defined as containing food. A similarly round tapered vessel used for drinks would be considered a cup. Conversely, an item may be commonly called a 'cup' (eg. icecream cup) but if it contains food, not drink, it is a bowl under this ban.
  • cutlery
    • (a) means utensils used for eating food; and
      (b) includes knives, forks, spoons, chopsticks, splayds and sporks;
    • Note that serving utensils are not included as they are used for serving, not eating, food.
  • food container
    • (a) means a container (with or without a lid) that is designed to contain food; but
      (b) does not include a cup or bowl;
    • This includes any shape or size container (eg. square, rectangular). Note that food containers with lids are exempt.

Exemption for pre-packaged items

  • pre-packaged food or drink product means a food or drink product that —
    • (a) arrives at the premises from which it is to be supplied to a consumer in a container or packaging in, or by which, the food or drink is wholly enclosed, whether or not it is also in an outer container or packaging that contains multiple units of the food or drink; and
      (b) is not designed to be removed from its container or packaging, other than any outer container or packaging, before it is supplied to the consumer;
    • Note that products must be pre-packaged before arrival to store (for example, a spoon placed in a yoghurt by staff onsite and then sealed is NOT exempt).

Exemption for EPS trays

  • is a tray made from expanded polystyrene that is used solely as packaging for raw meat or seafood.
  • Note that EPS trays which are used for other produce are NOT exempt.

Compostable plastics

  • certified as biodegradable if -
    • (a) a person accredited by an accreditation authority has issued a certificate verifying that the item complies with AS 4736-2006 or AS 5810-2010; and (b) the certificate’s period of validity has not expired.
    • Note that Australian certification is required.
    • Please also note that items made purely from compostable plastics are not allowed. The exemption solely relates to paperboard bowls, containers and cups which are lined with compostable plastic.
  • AS 4736-2006
    • AS 4736-2006 means Australian Standard 4736-2006 Biodegradable plastics - Biodegradable plastics suitable for composting and other microbial treatment published by Standards Australia, as in effect from time to time
    • This standard is commonly known as "Industrial Compostability". Please note that items with this certification are not certified to biodegrade if littered or in landfill. They must be processed in commercial composting facilities. Find out if facilities are located near you >
  • AS 5810-2010
    • AS 5810-2010 means Australian Standard 5810-2010 Biodegradable plastics - Biodegradable plastics suitable for home composting published by Standards Australia, as in effect from time to time
    • This standard is commonly known as "Home Compostability". These items can go in home compost bins or kerbside organics bins if approved by your local council. Find out about council FOGO services >

Plastic bags

  • A prescribed plastic bag
    • is a carry bag with handles that is made wholly or partly from plastic and is designed to convey goods purchased from a retailer.
    • Note "retailer" includes businesses and organisations, such as online sellers, delivery services, markets and community organisations.
  • includes a bag referred to in that subregulation that is —
    (a) made wholly or partly of degradable, oxo-degradable, biodegradable or compostable plastic; or
    (b) made from plastic-laminated paper or plastic-laminated cardboard.

Exemptions for plastic bags

  • prescribed plastic bag does not include
    • (a) a barrier bag; or
      (b) a bag that is, or is an integral part of, the packaging in which goods are sealed for sale; or
      (c) a shopping bag that is made from 1 or more of the following fabrics (whether or not mixed with a fabric that is not made from plastic)
      • (i) woven polypropylene (whether or not it is insulated for the purpose of keeping items cold);
        (ii) nylon;
        (iii) recycled polyethylene terephthalate; or
    • (d) a shopping bag that is made from non-woven polypropylene (whether or not mixed with a fabric that is not made from plastic) if —
      • (i) the bag has sewn, rather than heat-welded, seams; and
        (ii) the fabric has a minimum weight of 90 grams per square metre measured as a single layer of fabric.

Exemption for aircrafts

Prohibited plastic items are allowed to be supplied in connection with the service or consumption of food or drink on an aircraft.

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About compostable plastics

  • Bioplastics are a form of plastic that has been made from plant-based material, rather than conventional petroleum-based plastics.
  • They are often described as ‘plant-based plastic’, ‘compostable plastic’, ‘biodegradable plastic’ or 'bioplastic'. 
  • There are many variations, such as polylactic acid (PLA), aqueous coating, water dispersion.
  • They are usually chemically modified from corn starch, sugarcane or other plants.
  • Most bioplastics do not biodegrade as litter or landfill and must be treated in an industrial composting facility. 

IMPORTANT: Alternatives made from compostable plastics are not allowed*

If in doubt, ask your supplier for written proof that the items do not contain any form of polymer. It is an offence to provide false or misleading information about banned items.

*Exemption: bowls, containers and cups which are primarily made from paperboard are allowed to have a bioplastic lining, only if the item has achieved Australian composting certification (either AS 5810-2010 or AS 4736-2006). These items cannot be made purely from bioplastics. This exemption does not apply to straws, utensils or plates.

*Transitional exemption: DWER has approved a transitional, time-limited exemption for paperboard lined cups, containers and bowls which have achieved EU certification AND have commenced AU certification. Read more >


When considering national strategies or supplying outside WA, please be aware that rules around compostable plastics vary across current plastic bans.

The NRA has relayed issues reported by suppliers and retailers to the WA Government regarding limited supply and range of alternatives for cups, containers and bowls which have achieved Australian composting certification. This presents practical supply issues as well as market competition issues. Testing can take 6 to 18 months and these timeframes have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and supply chain issues.

UPDATE: Exemption approved 7 July 2022

DWER has approved a 12 month exemption for paperboard lined cups, containers and bowls which have achieved EU certification AND have commenced AU certification. 

This means that paperboard cups or bowls - for example with compostable water dispersion or aqueous coatings - which have achieved EU certification AND commenced AU certification will be accepted for now.

Read more >

 


When considering national strategies or supplying outside WA, please be aware that rules around compostable plastics vary across current plastic bans.

Is my item a bowl, food container or cup?

  • Bowl
    • If it contains food and is round = it’s a bowl and banned 1 July 2022. BUT if it has a lid, then the whole item (base and lid) is not banned.
  • Food container
    • If it contains food and is NOT round = it’s a food container and banned 1 July 2022. BUT if it has a lid, then the whole item (base and lid) is not banned.
  • Cup
    • If it contains a beverage = it’s a cup and banned 1 October 2022. If it has a lid, the cup base is still banned 1 October but you are not required to change the lid at this stage.
  • Beverages: Any room temperature, cold or frozen drink.
  • Food: eg. icecream, chicken, mousse, chips, soup.

A lid is any enclosure which covers, protects or seals the items.

Lids are not included in the Stage 1 ban, except in the case of EPS containers and trays. 

Lids have been excluded from the Stage 1 ban as they are commonly required for safe handling, transport, shelf life or hygiene (e.g. lid on a bowl of hot curry, film seal on a bubble tea drink, cover on freshly-made yoghurt).

A lid is any enclosure which covers, protects or seals the item.

Containers and cups are often sold separately to lids as businesses use the same lid for different sizes and items and therefore go through volumes at different rates.  Wholesalers can continue to supply packets of lids separate to the items they are intended for.

If unsure, please contact the National Retail Association hotline before ordering.

The WA Government recognises that members of our community with a disability or medical need may require disposable plastic straws to consume food or drink.

  • Individual disposable plastic straws can be provided with a food or beverage product if requested at a venue (e.g. cafes, restaurants, bars, takeaway food stores or schools).
    • The business is not required to keep or provide straws. 
    • If you do decide to keep and provide disposable plastic straws:
      • They must be out of sight and only provided on request.
      • Staff should not ask for a reason when a straw is requested, particularly as this would present privacy issues for your patron.
  • Packs of disposable plastic straws are allowed to be supplied from authorised businesses and organisations including:
    • a business which supplies products for medical or dental care (or are a medical or dental care clinic)
    • pharmacies
    • local government customer service centres
    • local government visitor centre or library
    • licensed charities
    • care facilities – hospitals, nursing homes, disability care facilities, aged care homes, palliative, respite and rehabilitation service locations, schools, community health services
    • medical care providers - as defined in the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (Western Australia) section 5
    • schools
      These places are not mandated to stock packs of straws and must have the straws out of general view. There is no obligation to ask why or explain.
  • Wholesalers/suppliers of disposable plastic straws can continue to provide to the places exempt above. There is no requirement for the supplier to request or obtain any information or evidence in relation to any medical, disability or therapeutic purposes for which the straw or pack of straws is required.

Distribution centres

Distribution centres supplying to customers outside WA are not included in the ban, though businesses should check for similar bans in other jurisdictions.

National suppliers can supply to clients outside of WA, but again please check local rules.

Single-use plastic bans around Australia

Most states and territories in Australia are implementing bans on single-use plastic items, though the rules of each ban vary per jurisdiction. Check the external links below for more information:

Businesses can also call the National Retail Association hotline or email sustainability@nra.net.au for information on other bans.

The WA Plan for Plastics is being implemented by the WA Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER).

The WA Government will firstly work with businesses and organisations to ensure they understand their obligations.

From the enforcement dates, it will be an offence to do any of the following:

  • supply a banned plastic item
  • provide false or misleading information about a banned plastic item
  • release, or cause/permit the release, of a balloon

Fines of $5000 per offence apply.

Please be aware that penalties apply for supplying banned items, but also for providing false or misleading information about items. If a retailer purchases from a supplier based on reasonable evidence that they thought the items were compliant, the supplier will be investigated.

We recommend that all retailers ask suppliers to provide confirmation in writing that items are compliant. Similarly, we recommend that suppliers supplying items outside WA add details to online product listings or ask clients to confirm that they know the items are banned in certain jurisdictions.

If you suspect a prohibited plastic item is being supplied or sold, you can make an enquiry or report to the department’s Pollution Watch hotline number (1300 784 782) or via email to pollutionwatch@dwer.wa.gov.au

You can continue to use banned items until 1 July 2022, except cups which you can use until 1 October 2022.

However we recommend that businesses stop ordering banned items and transition to alternatives before the ban deadlines to avoid being left with unusable, excess stock. It is also important to order alternatives early to avoid issues such as lack of supply or shipping delays.

If you have large amounts of stock, speak to your supplier as they may accept returns or exchanges. This is also an opportunity for suppliers to keep clients loyal while the risk of switching to another supplier is high.

Manufacturers, suppliers and businesses which operate interstate may be able to transfer excess stock to another state (however be aware of similar bans in other states).

If you cannot exhaust, return, exchange or transfer your stock in time, contact a local recycler to see if they can take some items. 

Suggested Recyclers:

Claw Environmental
 
(Can recycle items with recycling symbol 2,5 & 6)

Veolia

(Can recycle items with recycling symbol 1,2 & 4)

 

You can still use banned items at home.

IMPORTANT:

You cannot continue to supply banned stock in WA after the ban deadlines, even if you purchased it before those dates.

 

 

The CEO (or Director General) of DWER can grant time-limited exemptions to the ban or parts of the ban if they deem it necessary to do so. 

In May DWER published information about applying for an exemption, guidance for what will be considered, and related forms.

Exemption applications cannot be approved nor denied before 1 July but DWER is welcoming draft applications now.

Read more >

The WA Plan for Plastics is being implemented by the WA Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER).

The WA Government will firstly work with businesses and organisations to ensure they understand their obligations.

If you suspect a prohibited plastic item is being supplied or sold after the ban deadlines you can make an enquiry or report to the department’s Pollution Watch hotline number (1300 784 782) or via email to pollutionwatch@dwer.wa.gov.au

Most states and territories in Australia are implementing bans on single-use plastic items, though the rules of each ban vary per jurisdiction.

Check the external links below for more information:

Businesses can also call the National Retail Association hotline or email sustainability@nra.net.au for information on other bans.

Come along to info sessions.

Need help understanding the ban and how it applies to your product range?
The National Retail Association are holding regular online Q&A sessions for businesses to pop in and ask questions of our expert team.

Want to receive updates, new business resources and details of information sessions? Keen to have your say on the Stage 2 ban?