The Plastic Shopping Bags Ban Act 2013 prohibits retailers in Tasmania from supplying shoppers with lightweight (less than 35 micron thickness) plastic shopping bags for the purpose of enabling goods sold, or to be sold, by the retailer, to be carried from the retailer's premises.
The supply of other plastic bags is not restricted. These include compostable biodegradable plastic bags that meet Australian Standard 4736, re-sealable zipper storage bags, heavier plastic bags (typically used by clothing and department stores) and plastic bags that are an integral part of the packaging (such as bread, frozen foods or ice bags and fruit and vegetable 'barrier' bags).
The Act commenced in June 2013 and its enforcement provisions came into effect on 1 November 2013.
The Act is administered and enforced by authorized officers from the EPA Division of DPIPWE.
The Plastic Shopping Bags Ban Act 2013 is available at Tasmania's 'The Law' website.
Further information about the lightweight plastic bag ban is available from www.plasticbags.tas.gov.au.
The main provisions of the Act are:
- A ban on retailers providing lightweight plastic shopping bags;
- Powers for the Director EPA to require proof of plastic bag composition;
- Non-compliance penalties for individuals and corporations;
- The ability for regulations to be made for the purposes of the Act; and
- Powers for authorized officers to administer and enforce the Act under the provisions of the Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act 1994, including the issuing of Environmental Infringement Notices.
To assist in administration and compliance activities, the Environmental Management and Pollution Control (Environmental Infringement Notices) Amendment (Plastic Shopping Bags) Regulations 2013 have been made under the Act. These have been incorporated into the Environmental Management and Pollution Control (Environmental Infringement Notices) Regulations 2006.
The legislation supports the Tasmanian Waste & Resource Management Strategy and builds on initiatives undertaken by many retailers in Tasmania, who had already moved to supplying reusable or biodegradable bags for customers. In recent years, similar legislation has also been implemented in South Australia, the Northern Territory and the ACT.
Development of the Plastic Shopping Bags Ban Act 2013 started in September 2012, following a State Budget allocation to introduce and implement a ban on lightweight plastic shopping bags.
Public consultation included the release of a Minor Assessment Statement (MAS) outlining the likely effects of the proposed ban, which was released for stakeholder comment on 7 December 2012. This included review by the Plastic Bags Reference Group with membership covering plastic bag wholesalers, major retailers, retailer organisations and the wider community.
In the lead-up to enforcement provisions taking effect on 1 November 2013, an extensive retailer and public education and information campaign was used to ensure a smooth transition to the new situation.
Information about the ban is available from www.plasticbags.tas.gov.au or contact: