Plastic has always been a problematic material for the environment. Depending on its form, plastic can take decades or centuries to break down, and some products may never fully decompose. This leaves us with litter in our environment, microplastics in our food (for animals and humans), and landfills or incinerators leaching harmful greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere and toxins into our soil and water.
There are ongoing collaborative international efforts to ban single-use plastics. In 2022, representatives from 175 nations endorsed a United Nations resolution to end plastic pollution, considering its production, reuse and end-of-life solutions.
Below are some of the items already or soon-to-be banned across Australia and New Zealand. States and territories have their own single-use plastic phase-out plans (plus some city-specific bans), so be sure to check what’s being cut where you live.
As a next step, peruse TerraCycle’s free recycling programs in Australia and New Zealand so you can responsibly dispose of yet-to-be banned problem plastics that aren’t accepted in kerbside recycling.
Table updated 1/11/2022
If you’re now wondering why your local grocer is still supplying plastic shopping bags, that’s because most bans come with caveats – whether they’re for plastic bags, polystyrene packaging, plastic cutlery or coffee cups.
For example, banned plastic bags in New Zealand are under 70 microns in width, while in most Australian states and territories it’s under 35. And while some Aussie states are also culling heavyweight single-use bags, other regions may not include these or other bags made with recycled and organic materials.
There are always going to be exceptions – especially to ensure equal access is maintained for people with disabilities – but cutting the bulk of these products out of the waste cycle is a step in the right direction.
Find more details about the plastic bans where you live here: