Plastic straws for disability or health needs
Do I need to get an exemption to provide plastic straws?
No, the exemption is written in the legislation and an individual business does not need to apply for the exemption.
Can I provide plastic straws to someone who asks for one?
Yes, you can choose to keep straws for your patrons with a disability or health need (but no business is required to do so). If someone requests a straw, you may provide them with an individual straw. They do not need to provide any evidence that they are a person with a disability or medical need, or acting on behalf of a person who needs them (such as a carer).
Can I display plastic straws for sale?
Businesses which are not ‘prescribed businesses’ cannot have plastic straws on display. Prescribed businesses may stock plastic straws (but are not required to do so) and may have them on display.
The following businesses have been identified as ‘prescribed businesses':
- Local Government offices
- Medical, dental, and care facilities
How can I access plastic straws?
A person requiring a plastic straw for disability or health needs may purchase plastic straws from prescribed businesses, wholesalers and distributors or online without providing proof of need.
Can I use plastic straws at home if I already have them?
Yes, you may use plastic straws you already have for personal use in your home.
Pre-packaged / attached products
What about plastic straws and cutlery attached to products?
It is recognised that single-use plastic straws attached to products, such as straws attached to beverage containers or cutlery like spoons that are provided already attached to packaging, will take a longer time to transition to alternatives. There is a current exemption to exclude ‘pre-packaged and attached products’ from the legislation including single-use plastic drinking straws attached to beverage cartons and single-use plastic cutlery packaged within single-serve yoghurt containers.
The government has announced this exemption for attached products will be removed from 1 September 2025.
What about expanded polystyrene in food packaging?
It is recognised that expanded polystyrene cups or expanded polystyrene bowls that form part of the packaging of a relevant food or beverage product will take a longer time to transition to alternatives. As a result, products such as expanded polystyrene cups and bowls containing ready-to-eat noodles are currently exempted from the legislation.
Single-use plastic spoons—medical, dental and care facilities
When can I use a plastic spoon?
Only for the purposes of the clinical care, management or treatment of a person's injury, disease, illness or other medical condition, including the clinical diagnosis, prognosis, assessment, prevention, management, treatment or palliation of the injury, disease, illness or other medical condition within a defined ‘medical or dental facility’ and ‘care facility’.
Any single-use plastic spoons used for other purposes within a medical, dental or care facility (such as to serve food as part of a meal) or outside these facilities is considered a prohibited plastic product and must not be used.
There is a separate exemption for single-use plastic spoons which are attached to products as part of the manufacturing process, such as a yoghurt container with a spoon attached. This exemption will be removed from 1 September 2025.
Plastic-stemmed cotton buds – medical, scientific, forensic or law enforcement purposes
Can I buy plastic-stemmed cotton buds for cleaning ears, beauty or cosmetic purposes, or general domestic uses such as cleaning?
No, the exemption for plastic single-use cotton buds (including plastic single-use cotton swabs) is for where it is used for medical, scientific, forensic or law enforcement purposes only.
Can I sell a kit containing plastic stemmed cotton buds?
Yes, plastic single-use cotton buds may be made available for sale, to a member of the public as part of a permitted kit (such as first aid kits or kits used for medical, scientific or forensic testing, such as a COVID-19 test) by a retail store (such as a pharmacy, supermarket or convenience store).
Single-use plastic bowls – medical, scientific, forensic or law enforcement purposes
Can I use the single-use plastic bowls and/or single use plastic plates I already have at home?
Yes, you may use single-use plastic bowls and single-use plastic plates that you already have for personal use (such as parties, picnics and celebrations). You cannot give or sell them to an organisation for use, such as a charity, not-for-profit, community or sporting organisation.
Plastic lined or coated paper or cardboard plates and bowls
Can I sell or purchase a paper or cardboard plate or bowl that has a plastic coating or lining?
Yes, you may sell or purchase a paper or cardboard plate or bowl with a plastic coating or lining until 31 October 2024. After that time, you will only be able to use these products that you already have at home for private functions and celebrations.
How can I tell if a paper or cardboard plate or bowl has a plastic coating or lining?
Paper plates and bowls that have printed colours, images or words across the plate or bowl, such as film characters, colours, patterns or words (Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas and so on) have a plastic coating or lining to make the item food safe.