Victorian plastic bag ban

Retailers are banned from supplying lightweight plastic shopping bags in Victoria.

It’s also against the law for a retailer, wholesaler or manufacturer to give false or misleading information about banned bags. 

The ban applies to all retailers, including:

  • supermarkets
  • clothes shops
  • charity shops
  • restaurants, cafes and food outlets
  • convenience stores.

The ban is a result of environment protection laws. The laws aim to protect Victoria’s environment and wildlife from plastic pollution.

Types of bags that are banned

It’s against the law to sell or provide customers with plastic bags that are 35 micrometres (μm) thick or less at any part of the bag, if the bag:

  • is to carry goods sold from the premises 
  • has handles
  • is all or partly plastic.

The ban applies to new or re-used bags that are either wholly or partly plastic. It includes bags that are:

  • degradable
  • biodegradable
  • compostable plastic.

Vic Bag Ban has more examples of banned bags.

Not all bags are banned. Some bags without handles and less than 35 micrometres (μm) are still legal:

  • supermarket bags used to carry loose fruit and vegetables
  • bags that are a vital part of the packaging that seals goods or makes them available for sale
  • plastic dry-cleaning covers.

There are no officially approved plastic bags. If a plastic bag has “bag ban compliant” or similar printed on it, that doesn’t mean it’s compliant. 

Retailers’ plastic bag ban obligations

All retailers must comply with the ban. You are a retailer if you’re an individual or company involved in the sale or supply of goods to consumers. Wholesalers are generally involved in selling or supplying larger amounts of goods to retailers, rather than to consumers.

You can’t sell or give banned plastic bags to consumers to carry goods sold by you from your retail premises. This applies to new or second-hand banned bags. Market stallholders, charity shops and community fêtes must not provide non-compliant second-hand bags to carry goods.

Even if you don’t mean to, you must not provide information that’s false or misleading about:

  • the materials that make up a banned plastic bag
  • whether or not a bag is a banned plastic bag
  • whether or not a bag is exempt from the ban.

If you’re unsure whether your bags comply, ask your supplier to provide evidence of your bags’ thickness, at the thinnest point or from across multiple points of the bag. If your supplier is unable to provide the thickness and you still want to explore using the bags, a measurement laboratory can test your bags' thickness.

The Victorian ban is slightly different to bans in other states. It’s your responsibility to understand and comply with Victoria’s laws.

If you conduct retail outside Victoria, check each state’s laws.

Wholesalers' and manufacturers' plastic bag ban obligations

Plastic bag suppliers (wholesalers and manufacturers) must not give information that you know, or should reasonably know, is wrong or misleading about:

  • the materials that make up a banned plastic bag
  • whether or not a bag is a banned plastic bag
  • whether or not a bag is an exempt plastic bag. 

EPA’s role in the plastic bag ban

EPA is responsible for administering Victoria’s plastic bag ban.

Our authorised officers can enter retail premises to take and remove bag samples to check if they comply. 

We ask consumers to report if they are sold or given a banned bag. Check which bags are banned, then contact us:

There are significant penalties for not complying with the ban. In more serious circumstances, EPA may decide to prosecute.  

Court penalties of $9,900 for an individual and $49,500 for a company may apply. 

Retailers who ignore an order from EPA could face a court-imposed penalty of up to $396,500.  

Help to comply with the plastic bag ban

Visit Vic Bag Ban for more information on complying with the plastic bag ban. This includes advice for retailers on providing reusable bags, or no bags at all.

You can also contact us if you need more information. 

Read more

Sustainability Victoria – information for the public

The Vic Bag Ban – information for retailers

 

Reviewed 16 March 2020