Waste

Banning the bag to reduce plastic pollution


The plastic bag ban, which commenced 1 November 2019, means that retailers must not sell or provide a banned plastic bag to a person to carry or transport goods sold, or provided, by the retailer from their premises.

Under the ban, a retailer, wholesaler, or manufacturer of plastic bags must not provide, whether by act or omission, false or misleading information about banned bags
 
The ban applies to plastic bags, either wholly or partly plastic, with handles and a thickness of 35 micrometre or less at any part of the bag. This includes bags made from degradable, biodegradable and compostable plastic.
 
The Victorian Government announced the ban in June 2018 and EPA is the regulator responsible for administering the ban.
 
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.
 
Further information for retailers, manufacturers, or wholesalers will be available on this page and the Vic Bag Ban webpage 

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  • What is the ban on supplying plastic bags?

    The ban makes it illegal for retailers to sell or provide banned plastic bags to a person to carry their goods from the retail premises. The ban applies to plastic bags with handles, that have thickness of 35 micrometres (μm) or less at any part of the bag, including bags that are biodegradable, degradable or compostable.

  • How does the ban relate to providing information about banned bags or exempt bags?

    Under the ban a retailer, wholesaler, or a manufacturer of plastic bags, must not, whether by act or omission, provide to another person false or misleading information about:

    • the composition of a banned plastic bag
    • whether or not a bag is a banned plastic bag
    • whether or not a bag is an exempt plastic bag.
  • 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, by contrast, is generally involved in the sale or supply of larger quantities of goods to retailers rather than consumers.

  • 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.

  • Are all plastic bags banned?

    No. Bags without handles, that are not plastic or are thicker than 35 micrometres are not banned.

    Examples of allowed bags are available at Vic Bag Ban.

  • 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.

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

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

    The timing of this transition and the measures taken to ensure compliance with the legislation will be different for each business. 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.

  • What are the penalties for not complying with the ban?

    There are significant penalties for not complying with the ban. In more serious circumstances, should the EPA decide to prosecute a retailer who provides a banned plastic bag to a person, or to a retailer, wholesaler, or manufacturer who provides false or misleading information about a banned or exempt plastic bag they could face court penalties of $9,900 for individuals and $49,500 for a company. A retailer that supplies a banned plastic bag to a person to carry their goods in and does not comply with an order from EPA to stop, could face a court-imposed penalty of up to $396,500.

  • 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.

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

    Yes. EPA encourages people to report retailers that sell or provide banned plastic bags to a person to carry their goods from the retail premises. EPA will manage reports of non-compliance through the EPA webpage portal and hotline.

    Consumers and interested parties can report a suspected banned bag by calling EPA 24 hours a day 1300 372 842 or 1300 EPA VIC.

  • Does the ban apply to all businesses?

    The legislation prohibits retailers, whether an individual or a company, from selling or 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:

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

  • 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 can apply for providing misleading information about a bag's compliance (see FAQ What are the penalties for not complying with the ban?).

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

  • 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 use a banned bag to a customer regardless of whether it is new or second-hand, or whether it is your company’s bag or someone else’s.

    For example, market stallholders, charity shops, community fete cannot provide customers with second-hand banned bags to carry goods sold or provided by them from a retail premises.

  • If I provide 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?'

  • I am a supplier of plastic bags (wholesaler or manufacturer), what are my obligations under the legislation?

    A supplier (wholesaler or a manufacturer) must not, whether by act or omission, provide to another person information the supplier knows, or should reasonably know, is false or misleading about:

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

Page last updated on 1 Nov 2019