Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Single-use Plastic FAQs - About the Legislation

About The Legislation

  • What is the purpose of the legislation?

    The legislation restricts and prohibits the manufacture, production, distribution, sale and supply of certain single-use and other plastic products in South Australia. The legislation was passed by the South Australian Parliament on 9 September 2020. The first products to be prohibited from March 1, 2021 are single-use plastic straws (exemptions apply), beverage stirrers and cutlery. The legislation is HERE.

  • Who decided to restrict and prohibit single-use plastics?

    The South Australian state government announced in July 2019 that it would develop legislation to address the impacts of single-use plastic products. The community called for urgent action on single-use plastics when it was responding to the Turning the tide on single-use plastic products discussion paper released by the state government available  HERE.

  • What are the key dates?

    From March 1, 2021, single-use plastic straws, cutlery and stirrers will be prohibited from sale, supply or distribution in South Australia. These single-use items can be replaced with reusable and compostable alternatives.  Exemptions will apply for single-use straws. These products will still be able to be sold interstate.

    From March 1, 2022, expanded polystyrene cups, bowls, plates and clamshell containers will also be prohibited from sale, supply or distribution in South Australia, as well as oxo-degradable plastic products which will also be prohibited from manufacture and production in the state. Oxo-degradable plastic products have additives which enable the plastic to break down into tiny fragments (‘microplastics’) rather than completely decomposing.

  • What are single-use plastic products?

    Single-use plastic products are designed or intended to be used once, or for a limited number of times, often away from home, and thrown away after a brief use, usually resulting in litter. 

  • What is wrong with single-use plastic items?

    Too often, the way plastics are produced, used and discarded results in pollution, litter and harming marine life. Due to its slow decomposition, plastic accumulates in seas, oceans and beaches worldwide. Globally, at least 8 million tonnes of plastics leak into the ocean each year. 

  • How is plastic defined in the legislation?

    The legislation defines plastic as a material made from, or comprising, organic polymers whether plant extracts or of fossil fuel origin.

  • When will other plastic products be prohibited?

    The community has called for urgent action by the government to address single-use and other plastic products. The legislation establishes a framework for adding extra products over time.  

    The following products have been identified for inclusion in the legislation at a later date and subject to consultation: 

    • single-use plastic cups (including coffee cups)
    • single-use plastic food containers
    • single-use plastic bowls
    • plastic lids of single-use coffee cups 
    • plastic balloon sticks 
    • plastic balloon ties 
    • plastic-stemmed cotton buds 
    • plastic bags (including barrier bag for fruit and vegetables)

    There are no timeframes as yet when other products will be included in the legislation.

  • Who does the legislation apply to?

    The legislation applies to any person who, in the course of carrying on a business, sells, supplies or distributes a prohibited plastic product (listed) to another person in South Australia. 

    Prohibited starting March 1, 2021:

    • Single-use plastic drinking straw*
    • Single-use plastic beverage stirrer
    • Single-use plastic cutlery

    Prohibited starting March 1 2022:

    • Expanded Polystyrene clamshell containers, plates, bowls or cups
    • Products made from oxo-degradable plastic

    It will also be an offence for a person or business to manufacture or produce oxo-degradable plastic products. 

    It will not be an offence to:

    • manufacture prohibited plastic products in South Australia, however, these items must not be sold, supplied or distributed to another person or business within South Australia.
    • sell, supply or distribute prohibited plastic products to a person or business outside of South Australia (i.e. interstate or overseas). 

    The legislation defines a business as: ‘an enterprise, association, organisation or other body’ that undertakes activities that are of a ‘commercial, charitable, sporting, educational or community nature’. 

    *Exemptions will apply for single-use plastic straws. 

  • Are the rules different for different businesses?

    Manufacturers, producers, wholesalers and distributors – referred to as ‘prescribed persons’ – face higher penalties under the legislation. 

    An exemption to allow the continued sale, supply and distribution of single-use plastic drinking straws to people who require them for disability or medical needs is being developed. This may result in certain businesses being able to sell, supply and distribute single-use plastic drinking straws.

    Businesses that manufacture or produce oxo-degradable plastic products will not be able to do so from March 1 2022.