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We want to minimise the impacts of plastic pollution in Victoria and encourage the shift towards a more sustainable future. That’s why we are introducing a ban on lightweight plastic shopping bags which will take effect from 1 November 2019. The ban will apply to all suppliers of bags, and retailers including but not limited to:
- green grocers
- clothing stores
- takeaway food outlets
To minimise confusion and impact, the bag ban will apply to lightweight shopping bags made of all types of plastic (including degradable, biodegradable and compostable plastics).
- degradable plastic bags
- biodegradable compostable lightweight plastic.
What is not banned?
- Barrier bags for fruit, vegetables meat and fish
- Garbage bags and bin liners
- Animal waste bags
- Thick plastic bags designed for re-use
- 'Green' bags (woven polypropelene)
- Hessian bags
Countdown to the ban
Through 2019, we will be working with the National Retail Association to support those retailers who have not yet made the shift away from these problematic bags to adapt to the changes, find alternative shopping bags, and to help manage consumer sentiment. This will help minimise impacts to Victorian businesses and support everyone with the transition. Suppliers and retailers can visit the VicBagBan website
Since 2018 the Victorian Government has run a Better Bag Habits campaign to engage with consumers, helping them make the shift to durable, reusable and sustainable bags and increase recycling. To see the video and find out more visit Better Bag Habits.
The ban will come into effect on 1 November 2019. Suppliers and retailers are advised to:
- Start depleting your stock of lightweight plastic shopping bags. Businesses will not be compensated for leftover stock.
- If you are ready, you can stop providing lightweight plastic shopping bags straight away. You don’t need to wait for the ban.
- You are not legally required to offer an alternative bag and it is up to you whether a small fee is charged for alternative bags.
- Encourage your customers to use and remember their reusable bags.
At its peak, Victorians used over one billion lightweight plastic shopping bags every year. This is now reducing as more people shift to durable, quality bags.
An estimated 10 million bags become litter each year. They can end up in our waterways, lakes and oceans, posing a significant hazard to our marine wildlife.
Like other plastic items, plastic bags in the environment break up into smaller and smaller pieces over time. This means that the impacts of plastic litter are long term and become increasingly difficult to manage.
Plastic bags are also a significant source of contamination in our kerbside recycling system.
The ban will:
- encourage a shift to reusable shopping bags
- reduce plastic bag litter
- reduce contamination from plastic bags in kerbside recycling
- encourage the use of more sustainable products and packaging
- provide policy consistency for retailers, suppliers and consumers in line with plastic bag bans in other Australian jurisdictions.
The ban also seeks to support global efforts to improve the productive use of finite resources, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and tackle the impacts of single-use plastics.
There is widespread support for a ban on plastic bags. In 2017, our discussion paper Reducing the impacts of plastic on the Victorian environment asked Victorians for their views on how we could design a ban to be effective and lasting. We received more than 8,000 submissions, with 96 per cent of respondents indicating support for a ban.
A ‘banned plastic bag’ will be defined as:
- a carry bag with handles that is wholly or partly comprised of plastic where any part of the bag has a thickness of 35 microns or less; or
- any other type of bag prescribed to be a banned plastic bag.
From 1 November 2019, it will be unlawful for any retailer in Victoria to provide lightweight plastic shopping bags, and for suppliers and manufacturers to give false or misleading information about non-compliant bags.
The legislation proposes two offences that will attract fines for non-compliance once the ban comes into effect:
- Supply offence: Penalties will apply to a retailer who sells, provides or make available a banned plastic bag to another person to use to carry goods that are sold, provided or made available by the retailer.
- Information offence: Penalties will apply to a person who supplies or manufactures plastic bags who gives information that the person knows, or reasonably ought to know, is false or misleading, or who withholds information, about the composition of a banned bag, or whether a bag is a banned plastic bag.
The maximum penalty for offences is $6,000 for individuals and $30,000 for a body corporate.
Environment Protection Amendment Act 2019 (PDF)
Page last updated: 21/10/19