New Wales buyers will no longer be able to buy disposable plastic bags from next week, as a ban on soft plastics comes into force.
The ban is part of a plan to prevent the destruction of the environment caused by plastic items falling into the rubbish.
The ban on lightweight plastic bags will take effect next Wednesday, June 1, and other plastic products will be banned from November.
Among them are disposable plastic tubes, stirrers, cutlery, plates and cotton swabs.
Polystyrene utensils and cups have also been banned since November.
“Environment Minister James Griffin said Monday: ‘The reason we’re doing this is that it’s stopping plastic from getting into the environment at the source.’
“This move will remove 2.7 billion of plastic waste from our environment over the next 20 years.”
Officials will enforce the ban with the threat of severe fines aimed at businesses and distributors of banned plastic.
Fines will range from $ 11,000 for a sole proprietor who violates the rules, to a maximum of $ 275,000 for a corporation that fails to comply with a notice of termination.
“We’re mostly looking for plastics distributors,” Mr. Griffin said.
Large grocery stores have already begun to phase out some plastic items such as picnic cutlery, replacing them with composted alternatives.
Earlier, the New Wales government said only 10 percent of the state’s plastic is recycled and the rest ends up in landfills.
About 60 percent of all garbage in NSW is made up of plastic packaging and other disposable plastic items.
National Retail Association said last year all other Australian states and territories have already banned lightweight plastic bags.
South Australia first introduced such a ban in 2009.
“Gradually abandoning plastic bags will be relatively easy, but the next step will be a little more difficult for some,” said NRA chief Ebony Johnson.
“We need NSW consumers to prepare for paper straws and wooden cutlery.”