Waste

Banning the bag to reduce plastic pollution


Under legislation, retailers in Victoria will be banned from providing customers with lightweight plastic shopping bags from 1 November this year.

The aim of the ban is to protect Victoria’s:

  • rivers,
  • waterways,
  • marine environment, and
  • wildlife

from plastic pollution.

Retailers will be banned from providing customers with lightweight plastic shopping bags with handles and a thickness of 35 microns or less. This includes bags made from degradable, biodegradable and compostable plastic.

The ban will apply to all retail outlets including supermarkets, fashion boutiques, fast food outlets, convenience stores and service stations.

The plastic bag ban is part of a suite of Government measures designed to reduce the impact of plastic pollution, reduce the amount of waste going to landfill and strengthen Victoria’s recycling industry.

Similar plastic bag bans already apply in South Australia, Queensland, the Australian Capital Territory, Tasmania and the Northern Territory.

The Vic Bag Ban webpage has information to help retailers get ready for the ban.

Further information for retailers, suppliers and manufacturers will be available on this page in the lead up to the ban.

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  • As a retailer, can I use bags that have "compliant" printed on them?

    Claims printed on bags such as “bag ban compliant” or similar are not proof of compliance.

    No plastic bag has been officially approved.

  • As a retailer, can I use banned bags if they are reused?

    No. Retailers cannot supply a banned bag to a customer regardless of whether it is new or second-hand.

    For example, market stallholders, charity shops, or community fêtes cannot provide customers with second-hand bags to carry goods sold, or provided by them.

  • As a retailer, how do I know if my bags are compliant with the legislation?

    Retailers who are unsure of the thickness of their bag should ask their suppliers for proof of the thickness of the bags, preferably across multiple points of the bag or the bag’s lowest thickness.

    Severe penalties apply for providing misleading information about a bag's compliance.

    It is your obligation to ensure that you are compliant with the requirements of the legislation.

  • Does the ban apply to all businesses?

    The legislation prohibits retailers, whether an individual or a company, from providing a banned plastic bag to a person to carry or transport goods sold by the retailer.

    In addition, the legislation prohibits a retailer, wholesaler, or a manufacturer of plastic bags from providing false or misleading information about banned or exempt plastic bags.

  • As a retailer, how can I prepare my business and staff for the ban?

    Retailers can start preparing for the ban by:

    • reducing stock of banned bags
    • ordering bags that comply with the legislation
    • finding the best solution for recycling any residual banned bags.

    Retailers can access a Retailers kit from Vic Bag Ban, to start educating their customers about the plastic bag ban.

  • As a retailer, the bags I currently use are 35 micrometers. Will they be banned?

    Yes, from 1 November 2019, the ban will apply to plastic shopping bags with handles, with a thickness of 35 micrometres (μm) or less at any part of the bag. The bag must be more than 35 micrometres (μm) across all of the bag to be compliant (that is, for you to be able to provide it to your customers to carry goods they have purchased from you in).

    This includes biodegradable, degradable or compostable bags containing plastic.

  • Who is a retailer?

    A retailer is any person, whether an individual or a company, involved in the sale or supply of goods to a consumer.

    A wholesaler is generally involved in the sale or supply of larger quantities of goods to retailers rather than consumers.

  • The thinnest spot on our plastic bags (with handles) is 35.5 micrometers thick, are we compliant?

    Yes. The proposed legislation bans plastic shopping bags, with thickness of 35 micrometres or less at any part of the bag, with handles including those deemed biodegradable, degradable or compostable.

  • Are drycleaners still able to provide the plastic cover for the cleaned clothes? The plastic covers for cleaned clothes don’t have handles and therefore are exempt from the ban.
  • Does the ban apply to charity household collection bags? No. They don’t have handles. Moreover, those bags are not supplied to the customers to carry goods. The bags go back to stores rather than coming out of stores. But the ban applies to the bags supplied in charity shops for customers to carry goods.
  • If I supply produce from my store to restaurants directly can I use banned bags?

    The ban applies to the plastic shopping bags you provide to customers to carry their goods. A retailer must not sell or provide a banned plastic bag to a person to carry or transport goods sold or provided by the retailer from the retail premises.

    For more information on who is a retailer, please refer to the FAQ 'Who is a retailer?'

  • Are the ban's criteria the same as in other states?

    No. The requirements in Victoria are slightly different from other states.

    If you operate a retail operation in multiple jurisdictions, please check the legislation applicable to each state. EPA expects duty holders to understand the requirements in Victoria and take steps to ensure they are compliant.

  • What bags are banned?

    The ban applies to plastic bags (either wholly or partly plastic) with handles, with a thickness of 35 micrometres or less at any part of the bag, including bags that are biodegradable, degradable or compostable. This applies to new and re-used bags.

    Examples of banned bags are available at Vic Bag Ban.

  • When does the plastic ban come into effect?

    The plastic bag ban will come into effect on 1 November 2019. EPA expects retailers, wholesalers and manufacturers to be compliant from this date.

    It is the government’s intention that the plastic bag ban will continue from July 2020 under Regulations made pursuant to the amended Environment Protection Act 2017.

  • What is the ban on supplying plastic bags? The ban makes it illegal for retailers to provide banned plastic bags to their customers to carry their goods. The ban applies to plastic bags with handles, that have thickness of 35 micrometres (μm) or less at any part of the bag. The ban includes bags that are biodegradable, degradable or compostable.
  • How does the ban relate to providing information about banned bags? Under the ban, a retailer, wholesaler, or manufacturer of plastic bags must not provide whether by act or omission, provide false or misleading information about banned bags.
  • Are all plastic bags banned?

    No. Plastic bags without handles or that are thicker than 35 micrometers (μm) are not covered by the ban.

    Some plastic bags are exempt from the ban. This includes bags (that are wholly or partly made of plastic) that are:

    • barrier bags, which do not have handles, and are used to carry unpackaged perishable food
    • an integral part of the packaging in which goods are sealed or provided for sale.

     

  • What approach is EPA taking to ensure compliance with the ban?

    During the initial stages of the ban the EPA will be working with duty holders to support their compliance with the legislation as well as monitoring industry performance. The EPA will be progressing towards intelligence-led and risk-based compliance and enforcement activities. 

    EPA authorized officers will also have the power to enter a retail premises and take and remove samples of bags to determine whether there has been compliance with, or any contravention of, the Act.

  • Can members of the public report suspected banned bags to EPA?

    Yes. We encourage people to report the supply of banned bags.

    You can report the suspected use or supply of banned bags online via the EPA Interaction Portal or by calling our 24-hour pollution hotline on 1300 372 842 (1300 EPA VIC).

  • Why are biodegradable, degradable and compostible bags included in the ban?

    Degradable, biodegradable and compostable plastic bags may not be any better for the environment than standard plastic bags. Also, these bags do not necessarily reduce the use of plastics and are made with combinations of plant and/or synthetic plastic material.

    The Victorian Government’s three-month public consultation in 2017–18 on our approach to banning plastic shopping bags attracted an overwhelming response of more than 8,000 submissions. Two thirds of respondents supported including biodegradable, degradable and compostable shopping bags in the ban. Submissions noted that there is much confusion around whether these bags are more environmentally friendly than typical plastic bags.

    More information available at Vic Bag Ban.

  • I am a retailer, what are my obligations under the legislation?

    A retailer must not sell or provide a banned plastic bag to a person to carry or transport goods sold or provided by the retailer from the retail premises.

    A retailer must not, whether by act or omission, provide to another person information the retailer knows, or should reasonably know, is false or misleading about:

    • the composition of a banned plastic bag
    • whether or not a bag is banned plastic
    • whether or not a bag is an exempt plastic bag.

    More information about which bags are banned is available at Vic Bag Ban.

Page last updated on 8 Oct 2019