Plastics bans and packaged food and drinks

From 1 January 2025 you can no longer supply banned plastic items as part of packaged food and drinks.

Commonly called “integrated packaging” these are plastic items that have been packaged through a machine-automated process and are:

  • inside or attached to packaging material used to seal or contain food or beverages (including pre-packaged portions of food or beverages)
  • an integrated part of packaging material used to seal or contain food or beverages

Examples of integrated packaging that will be banned from 1 January 2025

3D icon of polystyrene cup with sealed lid 

an expanded polystyrene (EPS) cup containing dry noodles with flavouring or soup powder sealed by a machine-automated process

3D icon of plastic snack pack with integrated single-use plastic spoon 

a plastic spoon sealed within the packaging of a snack pack by a machine-automated process

3D icon of tetra pack with integrated single-use plastic straw 

a sealed plastic straw attached to a juice box by a machine-automated process

The bans include items made from biodegradable plastic, compostable plastic (including Australian certified compostable plastics) and bioplastics.

Prepare for the ban

Anyone affected by the upcoming bans should begin the process of transitioning away from supplying banned plastic items integrated into food and beverage packaging as soon as possible.

Brand owners and manufacturers

  • Consider whether the item is still required as part of your product, and what alternatives are available.
  • Plan and implement any changes necessary to production lines to cease the use of banned plastic items and switch to alternatives as soon as possible.
  • Inform your customers of the upcoming ban and ensure they know to exhaust existing stocks of affected products before 1 January 2025.

Distributors, retailers and other suppliers

  • Conduct stocktakes of affected products.
  • Ensure you can exhaust your stocks of affected items before 1 January 2025.
  • Inform your product buyers and customers of the upcoming ban and ensure they can exhaust any affected stock purchased before 1 January 2025.
  • Share this information with suppliers, importers, and other relevant parts of your supply chain.

Industry associations

  • Share this information with members and associates through any newsletters, regular meetings or other relevant communication channels.
  • Direct members to this page if they have any questions or concerns.

Frequently asked questions

We recognise the significant capital investment required to review and adjust supply chains to make the switch to more sustainable and compliant stock. To allow enough time for industry to make these changes, a transition period was written into the Plastic Reduction and Circular Economy Act (the Act). This transition period ends on 1 January 2025.

Some other examples of integrated packaged plastic items include: 

  • plastic straws included within the packaging of at-home ‘bubble tea’ making kits 
  • plastic straws that contains flavouring beads or powder to be added to milk or other drinks
  • plastic spatulas included within the packaging of  ‘dip’ snacks.

No. The 1 January 2025 is a hard deadline that is written into the Plastic Reduction and Circular Economy Act 2021 (the Act). This end of transition period comes over two years after the bans on single use plastic items came into force on 1 November 2022, and over three years after the Act was passed in Parliament in November 2021.

We hope that by sending out communications now to businesses that they are reminded to make the necessary preparations to transition to compliant stock, and work with their retail partners to run down stock of affected products before 1 January 2025.

No. Unless allowed under another exemption you cannot continue to supply banned items after 1 January 2025.

In general, the circumstances in which the EPA will consider it necessary or appropriate to grant an exemption will be limited.

Organisations or individuals ‘carrying on a business’ may submit an enquiry form to the EPA regarding applying for an exemption. Please note that the form itself is not an exemption application and submitting the form does not mean you have been or will be granted an exemption. The form is a guide that will assist you to prepare for the types of questions that you may need to answer in further detail, after the EPA has considered your enquiry.

To read more about the process for enquiring about exemptions, go to our plastics ban exemptions guidance.

We have listed some suggestions to compliant alternatives on our alternatives to banned single-use items webpage. We also suggest the below alternatives to commonplace integrated packaged banned items:

  • Plastic straw included with a beverage – swap included plastic straws for paper ones instead. Also consider whether the packaging of a beverage could be redesigned to not include a straw at all, for example, changing a carton design to a bottled design where the beverage is enclosed with a lid.
  • Plastic cutlery included with meal – swap for bamboo or wooden cutlery. Also consider if the meal could do without included cutlery if your customer is likely to take the meal home and use available reusable cutlery.

To report the supply of a prohibited plastic item:

No. The ban taking place from 1 January 2025 does not include the protective plastic sleeve encasing of a straw. For example, a compliant (eg. paper) straw enclosed in a plastic sleeve that is attached to a beverage box will be acceptable.  

However, the EPA encourages industry to seek alternatives to plastic sleeve encasings, as we cannot say for certain that they will not be banned in future. 

Please note that the ban update taking place from 1 January 2025 only applies to food and drink packaging that includes already banned single-use plastic items. That is, not all food and drink packaging made of plastic is banned.  

For example, a drink product that is packaged with a plastic screw-on lid is not banned. Plastic shrink wrapping around food and beverage products also is not banned.  

However, you may have obligations to manage the impact of packaging in which your products are sold or distributed. Please visit this webpage for more information on packaging stewardship.  

Furthermore, the NSW Government is currently undertaking a review of further problematic and unnecessary plastic items. Public consultation on the paper, entitled NSW Plastics: Next Steps, closed on 4 February 2024. Decisions regarding future banned items are pending and further consultation with the public, industry and other stakeholders will occur.Updates will be available on the Plastics Paper Have Your Say webpage

The NSW EPA can only give advice regarding the state of New South Wales. 

The ban update that affects packaged food and drinks vary across the states and territories.   

The National Retail Association (NRA) has an informative table that lists Australian single-use plastic bans by state among other important industry information. 

For information regarding another state, territory, or country, please refer to the links at the bottom of the table to the individual states and territories legislation, or contact your relevant Environment Protection Authority.