How To Ensure Your Business Is Ready For The NSW Plastic Ban

Business Tips

As of November 1st, a state-wide ban for the hospitality industry will be implemented on certain single-use plastic items through the new ‘Stop it and Swap it’ campaign. Ahead of the changes, cafes, restaurants and food businesses need to ensure their operations are amended. 

With 95 percent of the litter on beaches and waterways coming from suburban streets, the majority being single-use plastic, the NSW government is intent upon fining businesses that do not adhere to the new changes. So, here are some tips to ensure your business is ready for the plastic ban this month. 

Understand what you can and can’t have 

While there’s some confusion around the items you can and can’t have, it’s important to understand this clearly, as mistakes could end up costing you. 

Lightweight single-use plastic bags were banned from 1 June, so as a first step make sure your venue doesn’t use plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, plates, bowls and cotton buds. Likewise, food ware and cups made from expanded polystyrene and rinse-off personal care products containing plastic microbeads, can no longer be stocked. 

Exemptions exist in the situation where you are providing a plastic straw for people with a disability or medical need. Likewise, a once-off time-bound exemption applies for plates and bowls that are made of paper or cardboard but have a plastic lining or coating. 

Plastic items that are banned

  • single-use plastic cutlery, stirrers, straws*, plates and bowls** (except where designed or intended to have a spill-proof lid)
  • expanded polystyrene (EPS) food service items (including EPS clamshells, cups, plates and bowls) 

Plastic items that aren’t banned 

The ban does not apply to plastic bags such as:

  • ‘heavyweight’ reusable plastic bags greater than 35 microns
  • barrier bags that protect unpackaged food (e.g. fruit, vegetables, dairy, meat or fish)
  • bin liner bags
  • human or animal waste bags
  • produce bags
  • bags used for medical purposes and
  • sealed product packaging bags.

Prepare your staff, volunteers and clients

In the lead up to the ban, make sure you communicate the changes effectively to all staff, suppliers and those involved in your business. Ensure staff know they are no longer able to supply plastic items and communicate what to expect to your customers. Likewise, let your staff and volunteers know that they’re allowed to provide a plastic straw on request (and do not have to ask for a reason). However, straws must not be on display.

Do a stock take of existing items and stop ordering single use plastic 

Go through your existing stock and see how much is left. The government is prepared to provide several weeks of leniency for you to use these items. However, after that time you must ensure you are not using any single use plastic. 

Make sure you cancel any existing or upcoming orders and start the transition now. Speak to your supplier as they may be willing to take back some of the unused stock or accept an exchange for other items. Likewise, you might also be able to transfer existing stock to another state. If this is not an option, contact your nearest recycler to see if they will take some of the items you cannot use. 

For more information and assistance for small businesses in the transition from plastic, and to recycle excess stock, register with the Great Plastic Rescue.

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