Single-use plastic bags, straws and cutlery will be phased out in NSW within a year after a government plan to remove billions of items from the plastic waste stream passed parliament.
Lightweight plastic bags will be banned from June 2022, while plastic straws, cutlery, stirrers and plastic-stemmed cotton buds will be outlawed from November.
Microbeads will be phased out of products such as handwash and make-up, and styrofoam cups, plates and containers will also be prohibited by November as well.
NSW generates 800,000 tonnes of plastics every year.
Environment Minister Matt Kean on Tuesday said the legislation was a “game changer” in the state’s fight against plastic waste.
“Only 10 per cent of plastics in New South Wales are recycled, with the rest ending up in landfill, or worse, littering our streets, dumped in our parks and washing up in our waterways,” Mr Kean said.
“This legislation is expected to stop 2.7 billion single-use items from ending up in our natural environment and waterways over the next 20 years.”
Businesses would be supported in making the transitions, Mr Kean said, and exemptions would apply for members of the community who rely on single-use plastics for disability or health needs.
The government’s broader plastics action plan, which also includes cleaning up plastic pollution and investigating alternatives, will cost $356 million over five years.
The NSW government has committed to achieving zero emissions from organics in landfill by 2030 and also wants to extract more biogas from waste.
NSW aims to cut total waste per capita by 10 per cent, cut litter by 60 per cent and triple the plastic recycling rate by 2030.
Green groups welcomed the long-awaited move when it was announced earlier this year, but say the government should not wait three years to review the use of other plastics including heavyweight grocery shopping bags and single-use plates and cups.