Single-use plastic bag alternatives

Last updated: 22 December 2021

Lightweight plastic bags are banned

Lightweight plastic shopping bags have a thickness of 35 microns or less. These include degradable, biodegradable and compostable plastic shopping bags.

How they harm the environment

Plastic bags end up in our landfill, harm our wildlife, and break up into smaller and smaller fragments that continue to cause environmental harm, ending up in our water and even in our food.

What to do instead

Use reusable bags

Use reusable bags to reduce your impact on the environment.

  • Use bags you already have at home for your shopping. These can be backpacks or bags made from cotton, canvas, calico or recycled plastic, which are more sustainable choices.
  • Keep your bags in the same spot at home or in your car so they’re handy next time you go shopping.
  • Simply say, 'No bag, please' at the checkout and have your reusable bag ready.
  • Keep a small bag in your handbag or backpack for spontaneous shopping. Foldable bags are around the size of a wallet when folded.

Reduce other single-use plastics

You can also avoid other single-use plastics like sandwich bags, freezer bags and garbage bags.

  • For your leftovers and food storage, you should use a container made of metal, glass or long-lasting plastic.
  • Use beeswax or soy wraps instead of sandwich bags.
  • Use compostable bin liners. Although they still take time to break down, these bags are a sustainable alternative. Some councils accept them as part of their food and garden organics waste collection.
  • When disposing of food scraps, wrap them in a sheet of newspaper instead of putting them in a plastic bag.

Recycling plastic bags and other soft plastics

A soft plastic is a type of plastic that can be scrunched into a ball.

If you cannot avoid using soft plastics, it is important that you do not put them in your recycling bin at home.

Drop them off at supermarkets that take part in the REDcycle program.

Getting ready to recycle soft plastics

You can use the REDcycle program for items such as:

  • bread bags
  • bubble wrap
  • frozen food bags
  • plastic bags
  • potato chip bags.

The REDcycle program does not accept straws, hard plastics such as biscuit and meat trays, and certain items.

Visit the REDcycle website for information on items that are accepted and how to recycle them.

Find the nearest drop-off point for you.

Related pages