Victoria's Statewide Ban on Single-Use Plastic Bags Has Kicked Off

Here's what you need to know.
Libby Curran and Leisha Kapor
Published on November 01, 2019

After confirming the plans last year, and introducing the legislation to parliament back in June, the Victorian Government has followed through with its promised statewide ban on single-use plastic shopping bags, with the ban finally coming into effect on Friday, November 1, 2019.

Considering supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths began enforcing their own nationwide plastic bag bans over a year ago — and local shopping spots including the Queen Victoria Market and South Melbourne Market both scrapped plastic over the last couple of years — you've probably already got a solid collection of reusable bags ready to go. If not, we suggest you invest, tout de suite.

Victorian retailers — including supermarkets, corner stores and your favourite vintage shop — can now be fined for supplying customers with any single-use lightweight plastic shopping bags (with a thickness of 35 microns or less), including those made from biodegradable or compostable plastic. Under the new law, even individuals who run a small business online or as a market stall could be fined a maximum of $6000.

The Queen Victoria Market banned plastic bags earlier this year.

Plastic bags that aren't included in the ban include garbage bags, bin liners, animal waste bags and those thin 'barrier bags' you get with your fruit and veggies. Although if want to do your extra bit for the environment, you can get reusable cotton or mesh produce bags from homewares stores, supermarkets and online retailers — the same spots where you'll find reusable takeaway containers, drink bottles, straws and cutlery.

When disposing of that stockpile of old plastic bags, remember that these, and other soft plastics, must be kept out of your kerbside recycling bin — instead, you can recycle them (and things like glad wrap, zip lock bags and plastic food packaging) at most supermarkets through REDcycle.

So get in the habit of always carrying around a reusable bag whenever you leave the house — keep a stash in your car, or there are plenty of options that fold up nice and small and won't take up much space in your handbag or backpack for those spontaneous purchases.

As well as being a big win for the environment, the ban brings Victoria into line with South Australia, the ACT, the NT, Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland, who have all banned single-use plastic bags. NSW is now the only state that hasn't committed to a ban, after a bill proposed by NSW Labor failed to make it through the lower house last week.

Victoria's single-use plastic bag ban kicks in on Friday, November 1. To find out more, head to the Victorian Government website.

Published on November 01, 2019 by Libby Curran
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