Single-use plastic straws, plates, and cutlery to be banned in Victoria

Paper straws, wooden cutlery lined up in a row

Nicola Dowse

Posted January 25, 2023

From February 1, 2023, the most common single-use plastic products will be banned throughout Victoria. Find out how it will impact you and local businesses.

The state-wide ban is being implemented to help reduce plastic waste in the environment.

Single-use plastic straws, plates, cutlery, cotton tips and drink stirrers will all be banned for sale and supply in both retail and commercial settings from this date. This means you will no longer be able to buy these products in shops (including supermarkets), or be supplied with them at venues such as cafes, takeaways, community organisations, bars or restaurants. 

Rob Pierce, Bar Manager at CBD bar Bourke Street Green, says that while the business has been aware of the upcoming ban, the impact will be minimal as the bar has always opted for sustainable straw options.  

“We’ve never used plastic straws,” Pierce says. “We used biodegradable ones to start with, but now we use paper.”

Nearby, Little Collins Street patisserie, Le Petit Gâteau, has also gotten ahead of the ban by opting for plastic-alternatives for their disposable cutlery and food containers. 

“We don’t use any plastic for that sort of thing,” says Le Petit Gâteau café manager, Alex Hall. “We use wood cutlery currently and we changed over all our plastic bags. We use reusable canvas or paper bags.” 

The café's food containers for sandwiches and cakes meanwhile, are made from a sugarcane pulp material which can be either composted or recycled.  

Government data indicates that single-use plastic products make up a third of the litter found in the environment. The new ban follows the Victoria’s lightweight plastic bag ban that was implemented in 2019.

A person holding a cardboard food container filled with salad

Polystyrene food containers can be swapped for more sustainable cardboard, bamboo or reusable options. Photo: Matt Harvey.

What single-use plastics are banned?

The following products are banned from February 1:

  • Single-use plastic straws
  • Single-use plastic plates
  • Single-use plastic cutlery
  • Single-use plastic drink stirrers
  • Single-use plastic cotton buds

Expanded polystyrene food containers and cups – like the ones you might get a burger in or have a hot drink served in – are also banned. From January 2026 the ban will expand to also include any of these items that come pre-packaged in a food or drink product, such as plastic straws stuck to a juice box. 

The ban applies to products made of compostable plastic as well. This is because compostable plastics break down into smaller fragments called microplastics that can still pollute the environment and be ingested by animals and end up in the food chain. 

Only the above single-use plastic and polystyrene items have been banned. Plastic takeaway containers (the kind you might have leftovers from a restaurant placed in) are still permitted, while fans of a beer at the footy can still have it served in a plastic cup (remember to recycle where possible).

Single-use plastic serving implements such as tongs are also exempted, as are expanded polystyrene containers from which food is not directly eaten – think the tubs you might get large amounts of takeaway gelato in or seafood transport crates.

How will Victoria’s single-use plastic ban affect me or my business?

Once the ban comes into effect, individuals will no longer be able to buy any of the prohibited single-use items from stores or venues (with a few exceptions). 

If you have any of these plastic items at home that were bought prior to the ban, it’s fine to continue using them as long as it’s done so in a private setting (for example, a family picnic or child’s birthday party). 

Single-use plastic drinking straws will still be available for those who need them due to disability or medical reasons. Businesses are allowed to stock the straws for this purpose, but they don’t have to, nor will they be accessible without request. Calling the business ahead of time can confirm if they’re in stock.

Businesses that have a surplus of the banned products cannot sell or supply them after February 1. It’s advised that stock of these items is run down prior to that date and not restocked. 

It’s fine for businesses and individuals to continue using reusable plastic items but you should confirm with your supplier that they are genuinely classified as reusable. Failure to comply with the ban can result in financial penalties.


Homemade, eco-friendly cleaning tips for a natural home with Chelsea Smith

How RACV City Club parted with plastic

As a business that spans the hospitality, accommodation and fitness sectors, the RACV City Club has for a long time been looking for ways to reduce its waste footprint across its many venues. 

The club’s shared workspace now stocks only wooden disposable cutlery, uses cardboard or plant-based containers for serving light meals, and swapped over to paper straws well before the new single-use plastic ban was announced.  Paper straws are likewise used in other food and beverage venues across the club.

“As soon as the conversation around plastic straws began to shift, our leisure and operations teams saw an opportunity to make the change,” says Amanda Rottmann, City Club Operations Manager.  

Efforts to remove single-use plastic items and reduce all forms of wastage from the club go beyond what the new ban demands as well. Huskee reusable cups (made from coffee husks) are now available for members in the shared workspace, while refillable bottles of body wash are used in the fitness centre change rooms.  

The fitness centre has also adopted an “on request” policy for its sweat towels, encouraging members to bring their own if required to reduce water and energy use expended on towels that were handed out but not used.

Bathroom amenities such as toothbrushes and shower caps supplied in rooms also use recycled plastic and paper packaging where possible. In the rooms themselves, plans are also underway to replace single-use miniature bottles of hair and body products with large, refillable bottles that don’t have to thrown out after each guest stay.  

“Most people understand the changes when they’re explained to them,” says Rottmann.


A refillable bottle of body wash in a shower

Installing refillable amenities is one way RACV City Club is going beyond what is required by the new ban. Photo: Matt Harvey.

What are the alternatives? 

Several alternatives to the banned single-use items already exist and can be purchased widely.  

These include paper straws and plates, cardboard food containers, bamboo cutlery and even reusable, washable cotton buds.  

Before you swap straight to another disposable product, however, consider whether you or your business could implement reusables instead.  

For example, if going on a picnic consider if you could pack washable, reusable plastic plates and cutlery instead of using disposable options. If you run a food business, encourage customers to bring their own reusable cups or containers – neither Australia’s food standards code nor Victoria’s food act prohibit customers bringing their own containers.  


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