Plastic pollution harms our environment and wildlife

Single-use plastics make up a third of the litter we see in our environment and are difficult and costly to clean up.

They are often only used for a few minutes and generate a large amount of waste that is difficult to recycle. This can pollute our environment the same way conventional plastic items do.

Compostable and degradable plastics often still need special processing. All forms of plastic can be bad for the environment when littered.

Certain single-use plastics are now banned 

The following single-use plastic items are banned from sale or supply in Victoria:

  • Drinking straws
  • Cutlery including knives, forks, spoons, chopsticks, sporks, splades, food picks and sporks
  • Plates
  • Drink stirrers
  • Cotton bud sticks
  • Expanded polystyrene food service items and drink containers including:
    • plates
    • cups
    • bowls
    • clam shells
    • covers or lids.

A banned single-use plastic item is one made wholly or in part of plastic and is not reusable.

The ban applies to biodegradable, degradable and compostable plastics.

Reusable items are ones manufactured to be used for the same purpose on multiple occasions and come with a warranty, or other written representation from the manufacturer, that they are designed to last for at least one year.

It is not an offence for someone selling, supplying, distributing, or providing single-use plastic drinking straws if they reasonably believe the person requesting it, or someone/an entity acting on their behalf, requires one due to disability or medical need. 

For more information, see Part 5.5 of the Environment Protection Regulations 2021.

There are some exceptions to the ban 

Exceptions to the ban are for specific health and safety reasons, or if alternatives aren’t available. There are 4 exceptions for using single-use plastic items:

  • Cotton bud sticks for testing carried out for scientific, medical, forensic or law enforcement purposes
  • Cutlery, where required, in correctional and mental health facilities to prevent physical harm or injury
  • Until 1 November 2024 paper or cardboard plates lined with plastic
  • Until 1 January 2026 any single-use plastic item integrated into food or drink packaging by a machine automated process. For example, a single-use plastic spoon included in a yoghurt tub.

You may wish to provide your supplier with a written statement that you are using the items in line with the Regulations.

What you need to do

The ban applies to all businesses and organisations including:

  • Not-for-profit organisations
  • Sports clubs
  • Schools
  • Other incorporated entities
  • Restaurants, cafes and other food outlets
  • Convenience stores.

Except for the exceptions listed above, it is against the law to:

  • Sell, supply, distribute or provide banned single-use plastic items in Victoria
  • Provide false or misleading information about what banned items are made of.

If you have leftover stock of banned items bought before February 1 2023, you can:

  • Contact your supplier to see if they offer exchanges or credits towards compliant replacements
  • Contact a local recycler to see if they can recycle large quantities.

You cannot place these items into recycling bins.

We’ve been working with businesses to help them understand the ban. We’ve already met with more than 6,500 retail and hospitality businesses across Victoria.

We take an escalating approach to compliance, focusing our efforts where we can make the biggest difference. When we use our regulatory tools, we ensure they are focused on the problem and desired outcome. 

For more information, see our compliance and enforcement policy.

If you don’t comply with the ban, you may face penalties of up to $11,095.20 for individuals or up to $55,476 for body corporates.

Bans differ between states. It’s your responsibility to understand and follow Victorian law. If you operate outside Victoria, check each state’s laws.

Resources to help you understand the ban 

Help your customers understand how your business is complying with the ban.

Is someone breaching the ban?

Reviewed 8 March 2024