Alternatives avoid waste

Learn about some of the available alternatives to single-use items

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South Australia’s Single-use and Other Plastic Products (Waste Avoidance) Act 2020 is the first legislation of its kind in Australia.

Plastics play an important role in our economy and daily lives. When used in packaging, plastic helps ensure food safety and reduce food waste, but too often the way it is produced, used and discarded results in a wasted resource, and causes pollution, litter and harm to marine life.

South Australians are committed to the environment and want action on single-use plastic products. By avoiding waste and shifting to reusable or recyclable options, we can ensure the best environmental outcome for our ‘clean and green’ state.

The next steps establish a phased and manageable move away from single-use plastics over the next three years, enabling all South Australians to replace waste by avoiding single-use plastics and adopting ‘clean and green’ alternatives.

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Banned March 2021

Single-use plastic straws, cutlery and stirrers were prohibited from sale, supply or distribution in South Australia including bioplastic alternatives. These single-use items can be replaced with reusable and plastic-free compostable alternatives. Health and disability exemptions  apply for single-use plastic straws. 

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Banned March 2022

Expanded polystyrene cups, bowls, plates and clamshell containers were also prohibited from sale, supply or distribution in South Australia.

Oxo-degradable plastic products were prohibited from production, manufacture, supply and sale in the state.

Oxo-degradable plastic products have additives which enable the plastic to break down into tiny fragments (‘microplastics’) and do not completely decompose. 

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Banned September 2023

Plastic-stemmed cotton buds. Exemptions are in place, where plastic-stemmed cotton buds are required for medical, scientific, forensic or law enforcement purposes only.

Single-use plastic bowls and plates. Exemptions are in place where single-use plastic bowls are required for medical, scientific, forensic or law enforcement purposes only and are not used for serving food to humans. A separate temporary exemption is in place for single-use cardboard or fibreboard bowls and plates that are lined with or coated with plastic.

Plastic pizza savers. These are difficult to recycle in conventional recycling facilities, and when left inside a cardboard pizza box they impact on the recyclability or compostability of the pizza box.

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Planned ban September 2024

Plastic barrier bags will be phased out, enabling the market to switch to compostable alternatives, that are certified to Australian Standards. 

Thick supermarket or boutique-style plastic bags will be phased out. There are alternatives for these and the timing of this ban allows retailers to source alternatives and inform customers.

Single-use plastic beverage containers (including coffee cups) offer convenience for consumers, but these items and their attachments (such as lids and beverage plugs) have limited recovery and recycling pathways.

Fibre and other compostable, or non-plastic recyclable or reusable alternatives can replace single-use plastic food containers with various alternatives already available and in use.

Expanded polystyrene cups, bowls, plates and clamshell containers were prohibited from sale, supply and distribution in South Australia on 1 March 2022. Other expanded polystyrene (EPS) consumer food and beverage containers in the market (e.g. gelato tubs) will also be banned. EPS trays used for meat, fruit and other food items for retail sale will be phased out.

Plastic confetti will be phased out in South Australia. The interpretation of what constitutes confetti will be defined in regulations to follow.

Plastic balloon sticks/ties will be phased out.

Plastic bread tags can be replaced with non-plastic alternatives, as has already been introduced by at least one major bread producer.

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Planned ban September 2025

Plastic fruit stickers, plastic soy sauce fish, and pre-packaged and attached products (i.e. products that contain plastic straws or cutlery) are to be phased out.

For these products, industry needs time to design new, more sustainable product formats and implement alternative solutions. 

We are interested in hearing from organisations who have developed, or are developing, suitable reusable or compostable alternatives.

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Half all plastic used once

and then thrown away.

1 million plastic drink bottles

are purchased every minute

700,000 straws daily in SA

Australians use around 10 million straws a day, equating to 700,000 per day in South Australia

Packaging equals 26%

of the total volume of plastics used globally.

Up to 5 trillion

single-use plastic bags are used worldwide every year

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