Single-use plastic ban and plastic alternatives
- cotton buds with plastic stems
- expanded polystyrene loose-fill packaging
- plastic microbeads in rinseable personal care and cleaning products
- heavy weight plastic shopping bags
- the release of lighter-than-air balloons.
Single-use plastic items that were banned in 2021 include: single-use straws, stirrers, plates, bowls, cutlery, and expanded polystyrene takeaway food containers and cups.
Similar bans on single-use plastic items exist or have been pledged in Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia, New South Wales, and the Australian Capital Territory.
Avoid and reuse
Avoid and reuse
Avoiding plastic is the highest priority for businesses and residents, followed by recycling.
Businesses can avoid single-use items, including problematic and hard-to-recycle packaging by:
- avoiding packaging where possible
- choose alternative packaging which is easily reusable and recyclable
- encourage and incentivise customers to use reusables, refillable options, or dine-in to avoid packaging waste
- if you choose to use compostable packaging, provide appropriate collection bins and recycling of this type of waste with a commercial organic waste collection service.
Residents can avoid single-use items by:
- saying ‘no’ at the register to packaging
- taking your own food from home
- dine and drink in to avoid any packaging
- take reusable cups, containers, bottles, bags, cutlery, napkins, straws when buying groceries and takeaway food and drinks
- choose items that are package-free, refillable, with minimal packaging and recyclable packaging.
Plastic alternatives and how to dispose of them
As we move away from single-use packaging and products, a wide range of alternatives are now available. Many of these products are labelled - biodegradable, compostable or recyclable - and it can be confusing to know how to dispose of them.
Knowing the difference between materials, and which bin to put them in, will continue to support our collective efforts to reduce waste to landfill, and reduce the wrong items going in kerbside and public bins.
Biodegradable products are usually made from plastic with chemicals added, causing them to break down into smaller pieces. This can lead to micro-plastics being released into the environment. Residents are encouraged to avoid packaging marked as 'biodegradable'.
Items labelled 'biodegradable' are not recyclable and must be placed in your general waste bin (red lid).
There are two types of compostable packaging or serve ware:
- home compostable
- industrial compostable.
Home compostable materials refer to packaging that has been certified to Australian Standard - AS5810: Biodegradable plastics suitable for home composting.
There are two ways to dispose of home compostable products:
- home composting bin or worm farm
- general waste bin.
Compostable products are sometimes labelled plant based, bioplastics or eco-plastics. For an item to be called compostable, it must be certified to the Australian Standard - AS4736: 2006 Biodegradable plastics suitable for composting and other microbial treatment.
High temperature and specific conditions are needed to decompose bio-plastics.
There are two ways to dispose of industrial compostable packaging:
- through a commercial collection provider which collects and transports material to industrial and commercial-scale composting facilities
- general waste bin.
What to do with reusable products
Use the table below table to guide you on how to dispose of reusable products.
|Material type||Disposal option|
|Wood, bamboo, and leaf products|
|Reusable hard plastic|
|Paper plates and cups||Recycling bin (yellow lid)|
|Bioplastics (sugar cane or cornstarch)||General waste bin (red lid)|
|Metal cutlery and camping serve ware, containers, bottles etc.|
Making more sustainable choices
While compostable materials will eventually break down in a home or industrial composting facility, they are still a single-use product requiring resources to manufacture and transport, contributing to carbon emissions. Without a sustainable model of collection and processing, the majority of compostable items end up in landfill where they release greenhouse gas emissions.
For more information on the single-use plastic ban, refer to the Queensland Government website.
Residents and businesses looking for further information can also refer to the following websites: