Unfantastic plastic - review of the ACT plastic shopping bag ban

31 Aug 2018

In December 2017 the ACT Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability Shane Rattenbury, asked the ACT Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment to evaluate the operations of the Plastic Shopping Bags Ban Act 2010 and assess whether any changes were necessary.

The terms of reference were established by the Minister and are addressed in this report. This report represents a summary of the comprehensive technical analysis commissioned by the Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment and undertaken by the Australian National University: Regulating Plastic Shopping Bags in the Australian Capital Territory: Plastic Shopping Bags Ban Act 2010 Options Analysis.


The ACT Government establish a mandatory plastic bag disclosure regime, which would require those retailers who sell or distribute plastic bags in the Territory to report annually on bag sales and distribution. Prior to its establishment, further consultation should be undertaken with ACT retailers to inform key design issues.
If there is a desire to further reduce plastic consumption, the ACT Government should introduce a mandatory minimum price on plastic bags and consider applying this equally to biodegradable and compostable bags. The price should be based on bag mass and be designed to prompt behavioural change through a ‘nudge’ rather than by a material change in the economic incentives faced by consumers.
The ACT Government review and confirm the optimal division of responsibilities between government agencies for the regulation of plastic bags in the ACT.
The ACT Government research synergies for introducing compostable plastic, primarily into packaging of organics, to supplement the proposed ACT household organic collection scheme.

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