Independent review finds ACT plastic bag ban a success

Released 20/09/2018

The ACT’s single-use plastic bag ban has had significant environmental benefits and is strongly backed by the Canberra community, an independent review has found.

Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury requested that the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment, Professor Kate Auty, undertake a review of the ACT Plastic Shopping Bag Ban Act 2010 in December 2017.

The review, released today, finds that the ACT’s 2011 ban has had a marked impact on our consumption of single-use plastic bags. It finds that:

  • Last year alone, the ban reduced plastic bag use by over 55 million bags;
  • The ACT had been able to reduce plastic bag consumption by 60%, or 1131 tonnes, between 2011 and 2018 – weighing the equivalent of around 200 elephants!
  • There is strong community support for our plastic bag ban, with 68% of survey respondents declaring their support and 64% declaring they support further reduction measures. 69% percent say they believe the ban has had a positive impact on the environment;
  • Importantly, 57% of people said they have successfully reduced their plastic bag usage as a consequence of the ban. 68% say they take their reusable bags with them when they go shopping, always or most of the time.

In response to these findings, Commissioner Auty has outlined four key recommendations:

  • Introduce a mandatory plastic bag disclosure regime requiring retailers who sell or distribute plastic bags to annually report on bag sales and distribution, bag type, size and mass;
  • Introduce a mandatory minimum plastic bag pricing based on mass of the bag to encourage behaviour change. It is recommended to be uniform across all forms of plastic including biodegradable and compostable bags, and the price be appropriate for minimal financial impact on retailers and subsequent households;
  • Improved and streamlined governance arrangements within ACT government agencies;
  • Further research into biodegradable and compostable plastics and particularly their potential in conjunction with the proposed household organic collection scheme.

Comments attributable to Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury:

“Plastics have a huge environmental impact. We simply cannot continue to use and dispose of plastics in our current manner without serious consequences.

“It is troubling that the review finds that, with our growing population, consumption levels are slowly returning to pre-ban levels and may do so by the early 2020s unless further measures are introduced.

“The review also found the significant absence of information regarding bag consumption levels on a local and national level, and general confusion and misleading information regarding biodegradable and compostable bags.

“I am especially encouraged by the community’s strong support for our plastic bag ban – it’s clear that Canberrans are playing a significant part in the War on Waste, and are committed to doing what we can to reduce our waste and our impact on the planet.

“There is no simple solution for our plastic addiction.

“However, I am confident that the ACT can continue to lead the country in reforming how we use plastics. I thank the Commissioner for her report and the Government looks forward to formally responding to her recommendations.”

For more information and to view the review online, please visit: or

- Statement ends -

Section: Shane Rattenbury, MLA | Media Releases

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