From 1 July 2018 lightweight plastic bags will be banned in Queensland as part of the Waste Reduction and Recycling Amendment Act 2017.
What plastic bags are banned?
The new legislation bans single-use, lightweight shopping bags with handles and a thickness under 35 microns, whether made of HDPE* plastic, biodegradable, or degradable material. If you are unsure whether your current bag is under 35 microns, you will need to ask your supplier for evidence of the bags thickness (in microns or ‘uM’).
Section 99B of the Act:
(1) A banned plastic shopping bag is a carry bag with handles –
(a) made, in whole or part, of plastic (whether or not the plastic is degradable) that has a thickness of less than –
(i) the thickness prescribed by regulation; or
(ii) if a thickness has not been prescribed by regulation – 35 microns; or
(b) prescribed by regulation to be a banned plastic shopping bag.
That said, the goal of the ban is to move consumers away from single use bags and into reusable bags, and this is the intent of the Queensland Government’s consumer education campaign. Though the law only bans plastic bags under 35 microns, retailers should consider how plastic bags that look or feel similar to banned bags will be perceived by the consumer.
What plastic bags can I use?
If retailers do choose to continue supplying plastic bags, and wish to avoid consumer or government criticism, we would recommend choosing bags that:
- are well above the prescribed regulation thickness
- are clearly designed to be reusable
- are different in design to the typical singlet bag, and
- cannot be mistaken for a banned bag.
It is important to note that the regulation includes a provision to prohibit any bag the Government determines inappropriate.
Examples of the lightweight single-use plastic bags included in the ban:
How do I know if my bags are banned?
Retailers who are unsure whether the bags they currently supply will be banned, should ask their suppliers about the thickness of the bags. Severe penalties apply for any person or supplier who provides misleading information about a bag’s compliance (see Section 99E of the Act).
*HDPE (high-density polyethylene): This is a lightweight plastic that the vast majority of single-use plastic bags are made from.