Straws exempt from plastics ban for medical and disability use

EPA says exemption will help people who rely on single-use plastic straws to maintain their quality of life.

People who need to use plastic straws for medical or disability reasons and the suppliers who provide or sell them in NSW will still be able to do so after the next stage of the plastics bans commence on 1 November 2022, following the granting of an exemption this month.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is specifically empowered to grant the single-use plastic straws exemption under the Plastic Reduction and Circular Economy Act 2021, made in November last year.

EPA executive director engagement, education and programs Liesbet Spanjaard said the exemption will help people who rely on single-use plastic straws to maintain their quality of life.

“The exemption will ensure that people who need straws for disability or medical reasons, or others acting on their behalf like carers, family and teachers, can continue to access them even after they are banned in NSW later this year,” Spanjaard said.

“Importantly, it also means that individuals and organisations that need to continue supplying and selling plastic straws after 1 November for medical or disability purposes will be legally able to do so as set out in the exemption.

“This includes hospitality venues and food and drink providers such as restaurants, cafes, school canteens and kiosks, as well as chemists or pharmacies, health facilities such as medical, dental and nursing homes, and manufacturers, producers, wholesalers and online suppliers.”

On 1 June this year, lightweight single-use plastic bags were banned. From November, the NSW Government is also banning plastic single-use straws, cutlery, stirrers, plates, bowls, cotton buds, expanded polystyrene foodware and cups, and rinse-off personal care products containing microbeads.

Plastic single-use items and packaging make up 60 per cent of all litter in NSW. The phase-out of these single-use plastic items will prevent almost 2.7 billion items of plastic litter from entering our environment and waterways in NSW over the next 20 years.

The NSW EPA can grant exemptions to permit the continued supply of banned plastic items, including for medical or health reasons.

Guidance for individuals and suppliers on the single-use plastic straw exemption, and more information about exemptions, is available on the EPA website here:

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