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Single-use Plastic Ban (Qld)

From 1 September 2021, the supply of single-use plastic straws, stirrers, plates, bowls and cutlery, as well as polystyrene takeaway food containers and cups, will be banned in Queensland. The ban will be implemented under the Waste Reduction and Recycling Act 2011. The ban applies to all businesses and not-for-profit organisations, including supermarkets, restaurants, hotels and takeaway food outlets.


Part 3AA of the Act relates to plastic items. The laws were designed to reduce plastic pollution by reducing the number of single-use plastic items used or sold, and that become waste and are littered or sent to landfill. They were also designed to encourage retailers and consumers to reduce the overall use and sale of single-use plastic items, and use or sell sustainable alternatives to those items.

A “banned single-use plastic item” refers to a plate, bowl, cutlery item (including chopsticks, splayds and sporks), straw or stirrer, or a cup or food container made of expanded polystyrene.

Product exemptions

Not included in the ban are items including:

  • pre-packed straws or cutlery which are attached to products (such as a straw attacked to a juice box or a fold-out spoon contained in the lid of a yoghurt tub);
  • single-use plastic takeaway containers such as sushi containers, triangle sandwich containers, food containers with a plastic window, and bowls with lids;
  • serving trays and platters;
  • foam or plastic trays used for meat, or fruit and vegetables.

Business or organisation exemptions

Some disability or healthcare providers are exempt from the ban. These are:

  • facilities that provide disability care services;
  • hospitals;
  • schools;
  • dental clinics;
  • medical clinics;
  • pharmacies;
  • aged care facilities;
  • medical supply businesses.

The Queensland Government’s Single-use Plastic Items Ban Stakeholder Advisory Group has been appointed to work with businesses to ensure compliance with the ban and to provide options to manage excess stock.

Boomerang Alliance, a member of the advisory group, has been appointed to work with not-for-profit organisations.


When the ban is in place, if a business or not-for-profit organisation sells a single-use plastic item to another person, they face a maximum penalty of 50 penalty units ($6893). It is a defence if the business or organisation is an exempt one or if the business or organisation reasonably believes the sale is a step in a supply chain to an exempt business.

If a business or business or not-for-profit organisation provides misleading information about a banned plastic item, they face a maximum penalty of 50 penalty units ($6893).

Compostable items

The Act also contains laws relating to criteria for compostable items.

If a manufacturing, wholesale, distribution, or import business sells a plastic item that is compostable, it must comply with conditions under which the item is compostable, and these conditions must be clearly and legibly written on the item packaging or in an accompanying document. A condition includes whether the item is suitable for industrial or home composting, and whether it is compostable under certain Australian Standards. The maximum penalty for non-compliance is 50 penalty units ($6893).

The same penalty applies if a person gives false or misleading information about whether or not plastic items are compostable.

Banned shopping bags

A ban on single-use lightweight plastic shopping bags in the state was implemented on 1 July 2018. This ban was designed to reduce plastic pollution by reducing the number of plastic bags that become waste and enter the environment as litter. It was also designed to encourage retailers and consumers to reduce the overall use of carry bags and to use alternative shopping bags.

If a retailer gives a banned shopping bag to a customer to use to carry goods, the retailer faces a maximum penalty of 50 penalty units ($6893). This applies whether or not a price is charged for the banned plastic bag.

For advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Sally Crosswell

This article was written by Sally Crosswell

Sally Crosswell has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Communication and a Master of International and Community Development. She also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. A former journalist, Sally has a keen interest in human rights law.

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