ACT single-use paper updated

The ACT Government has submitted an Exposure Draft of the Plastic Reduction Bill 2020 was tabled in the ACT Legislative Assembly today and, if passed, will likely come into effect July 2021.

“The phase out will begin from July 2021, banning the sale and supply of single-use plastic cutlery, stirrers and polystyrene food and beverage containers such as plates, cups, bowls and ‘clamshell’ takeaway containers,” said Minister for Recycling and Waste Reduction Chris Steel.

Minister Steel said the Bill would also see the ACT become the first jurisdiction to declare public events single-use plastic free, with a focus on designated large-scale events, and in close consultation with the event holder. Plastic-free events could include Floriade and the National Multicultural Festival, as well as privately run major sporting matches and festivals.

“In 2022 the ACT Government will seek to expand the phase out to include items such as plastic fruit and vegetable barrier bags and oxo-degradable plastic products which are conventional plastics that include additives to accelerate the fragmentation of the material. Plastic straws will also be phased-out in 2022, however we will continue to work with key stakeholders in the health and disability communities to implement the ban and ensure they remain available to those who need them.”

The Bill

Key elements of the proposed legislation include:

Single-use plastic item = “a plastic product that is designed or intended to be used once only”

“Plastic means a material made from, or comprising, organic polymers, whether plant extracts or of fossil fuel origin” (ie. compostable items are not exempt from the ban)

Items banned:

  • single-use expanded polystyrene container (eg. expanded polystyrene cups, clamshells, bowls, plates)
  • single-use plastic beverage stirrers
  • single-use plastic beverage cutlery
  • single-use plastic shopping bag less than 35 microns in thickness, except compostable bags (as per existing ACT law)

Exempt items:

  • expanded polystyrene containers “which an integral part of the packaging in which food or beverages are sealed before retail supply”
    (eg. plate or bowl in a pre-packaged frozen meal)


  • “will now occur no earlier than July 2021, with the legislation to be introduced towards the end of 2020. The exact date of introduction will depend on the pandemic situation, in order to avoid undue pressure on local business.”
  • The legislation describes details enforcement processes and how other single-use plastic items may be added to the ban in future.

In addition, the Government has published an Updated Next Steps Policy Document noting an intention to phase out straws, single-use plastic fruit and vegetable ‘barrier bags’ and oxo-degradable plastic products, 12 months after the initial regulatory ban.

See the full details of the Bill here >


Public opinion

The ACT Government has released an Engagement Report based on consultation with consumers and industry stakeholders. Key findings include:

  • Over 90% of community survey respondents think action on plastic straws and stirrers, plastic-lined coffee cups or lids, and polystyrene containers and cups, is either very important or important.
  • Over 80% of community survey respondents think action on plastic cutlery, plastic plates and cups, light-weight fruit and vegetable barrier bags, and takeaway containers, is either very important or important.
  • over 60% of respondents were concerned about environmental impacts, including the effect of pollution, litter and resource use on ecosystems, wildlife, local waterways and the food chain

See the full engagement report here >


Have your say

The National Retail Association is extensively involved in sustainability initiatives, including lightweight plastic bags and other single-use plastics bans across all jurisdictions. We represent retailer perspectives and ultimately encourage national consistency to prevent negative impacts and confusion. 

The NRA Policy Team are active members of the ACT Government’s Single-Use Plastics Taskforce, as well as taskforces in other jurisdictions.

You can comment on the exposure draft of the Plastic Reduction Bill 2020: visit

Retailers seeking more information, clarification or personalised advice on how to successfully manage sustainability initiatives should contact the NRA Policy team at [email protected].



Government Action

It’s important to note that governments in multiple states and territories are currently either implementing or considering bans on a range of plastic items. The National Retail Association is involved across all jurisdictions, representing retailer perspectives and ultimately encouraging national consistency to prevent negative impacts and confusion. We will continue to update our Summary Table on current and proposed legislation affecting single use plastic and post articles periodically.