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From July 1, 2018, the Queensland government will be enforcing a state-wide ban on all single-use, plastic shopping bags that are less than 35 microns (µm) in thickness. The aim of the ban is to reduce plastic pollution, especially in relation to protecting the Great Barrier Reef.

The ban will bring Queensland into line with other Australian states - WA is bringing in a similar ban at the same time, Victoria recently announced that they will be implementing a ban next year, and ACT, NT, SA and Tasmania already have a ban in place.

To help you understand the ban and how it may affect you, we've put together some useful information including the fines/penalties, what sort of packaging alternatives are available.

What are the fines/penalties? 

Fines of up to $6300 per offence will apply to any retailers who give banned single-use plastic bags to their customers. If you are a retailer, you will need to make sure you are prepared for the ban by considering your packaging alternatives.

Which bags are banned?

The ban applies to all single-use plastic bags that are less than 35µm (microns) thick. This includes:
  • Standard single use plastic checkout bags,
  • "Degradable" plastic bags
  • "Biodegradable" plastic bags.

If you are a retailer, from July 1st 2018 you will not be allowed to give these bags to your customers at the checkout.

If you are an individual who has some of the bags saved up at home, you'll still be able to use them, you just won't get given them anymore at the checkout. We'd encourage you to look at getting some reusable bags though - they're much more durable and easier to carry (just remember to keep them in the car!)

Here's what the banned bags look like:

Standard Single-Use Plastic Bags under 35µm

Singlet Plastic Bags

"Degradable" Plastic Bags under 35µm

Degradable Plastic Bags

"Biodegradable" Plastic Bags under 35µm

Biodegradable Plastic Bags

At QIS, we have stocked some of these bags in the past. Below is a list, with product codes, of bags that we used to stock that will be banned under the new law.

  • SCP (Mini Purple Singlet Bag), 300mm x 150mm - 10um 
  • SCW (Small White Singlet Bag), 400mm x 200mm - 10um 
  • SCB (Small Blue Singlet Bag), 400mm x 200mm - 10um 
  • MCW (Medium White Singlet Bag), 500mm x 250mm, 12um
  • MCG (Medium Green Singlet Bag), 500mm x 250mm, 12um
  • MCB (Medium Blue Singlet Bag), 500mm x 250mm, 12um
  • LCGREY (Large Grey Singlet Bag), 520mm x 280mm, 13um
  • LCRED (Large Red Singlet Bag), 540mm x 280mm, 15um
  • LCW (Large White Singlet Bag), 540mm x 300mm, 15um
  • LCWP (Large Premium White Singlet Bag), 560m x 300mm, 16um
  • JCB (Jumbo Blue Singlet Bag), 580mm x 300mm, 17um
  • LCWXL (Extra Large White Singlet Bag), 630mm x 320mm, 18um
  • JCW (XXL White Singlet Bag), 700mm x 400mm, 18um
  • SJCW (Super Jumbo White Singlet Bag), 900mm x 450mm, 19um
  • EPISCW (Small Degradable EPI Bag), 400mm x 200mm, 10um
  • EPIMCW (Medium Degradable EPI Bag), 500mm x 250mm, 12um
  • EPILCW (Large Degradable EPI Bag), 540mm x 300mm, 14um
  • 2BB (Doube Bottle Bag Plastic), 455mm x 185mm, 30um
  • 3BB (Triple Bottle Bag Plastic), 455mm x 235mm, 30um

Which bags are exempt?

There are some exceptions to the ban, mainly to do with protecting food.

The ban does not apply to the following bags:
  • Barrier bags (deli-style bags for perishable foods, like meat, fruit and veg)
  • Heavier duty retail plastic bags (they need to be heavy duty enough to be reusable)
  • Bread bags and other integral food packaging
  • Bin liners - as long as they are used for their intended purpose as bin liners, and not as a replacement for single-use shopping bags

Here's what these bags look like:

Barrier bags (deli-style bags for perishable foods)

Deli Barrier Bags

Heavier duty plastic retail bags (at least above 35um)

Heavy Duty Retail Bags

Packaging that is integral to a product (such as bread bags)

Bread Bag

Bin liners

Bin with rubbish bag next to it


What are my plastic bag alternatives?

One thing to take into consideration is that, unfortunately, the days of paying 1-2c per bag are over. However, there are plenty of other solutions that won't eat into the budget too much - you just need to consider how much you can afford to pay per bag, based on your average sale value. For example, if you are a bakery with an average sale price of $4, you will want to consider economical options like flat paper bags. If you are boutique store with an average sale price of $50, then you may be more interested in some higher quality options, like printed paper bags. Here's a comprehensive look at some of the alternatives we have at QIS Packaging.

Flat Paper Bags

Price Range: 2-8c per bag

Flat Paper Bags

Flat paper bags are a good solution for bakeries and pharmacies, and any other retailers that typically sell one or two products at a time. These bags are quite lightweight and are best for smaller items. Flat paper bags are certainly an economical choice, and for those on a budget, may be the ideal replacement for singlet plastic bags. As they are made from paper, they can be recycled. At QIS, we have these bags available in brown or white and in a variety of sizes - you can grab some here. If you want your logo printed on these bags, we also offer printing services - you can fill out an enquiry form here.

Plastic Carry Bags with Die-Cut Handles

Price Range: 13-79c per bag

Plastic Carry Bags with Die Cut Handles

These heavier-duty plastic bags are ideal for retailers. As they are more durable than regular plastic bags, they can easily be re-used by your customers. At QIS, we have a range of die-cut carry bags in 13 different colours and various sizes. You can buy yours here, or if you would like your logo printed, you can request a quote here.

Paper Bags with Twist Handles

Price Range: 34-87c per bag

Paper Bags with Twist Handles

These robust bags are quite durable and great for grocers/retailers who are looking to provide their customers with a carryable option. At QIS, we stock paper twist handle bags in Brown, White, Black, Orange, Purple, Pink, Aqua (Light Blue), Lime Green, Yellow and Red. You can buy paper bags with twist handles here, and if you would like your logo printed on them, you can enquire here.

Woven/Calico Tote Bags

Price Range: $1.05-$1.92 per bag

Calico Bags Long and Short Strap

Woven calico tote bags are a higher quality option that you may want to incorporate into a boutique retail store. They are made from 100% cotton and are completely reusable. You can buy calico tote bags here. They are also a really popular option for printing - you can enquire here.

 Non-Woven Polypropylene Bags

Price Range: $1.37-$1.54 per bag

Non-Woven Polypropylene 4 Colours

Non-Woven Polypropylene (NWPP) bags are another reusable option that are really popular with grocers (think the "green bags" you'd find in Coles or Woolies, but ours come in 9 different colours). Like the rest of our bags, you can get these bags plain or printed.

Why are "degradable" and "biodegradable" plastic bags banned?

As well as standard single-use plastic bags, "degradable" and "biodegradable" plastic bags will also be banned. Degradable plastic bags are designed to break down into smaller pieces, called micro-plastics, but these micro-plastics still end up in the ocean and cause harm to marine life. Biodegradable plastic bags are typically made from starch compounds instead of petro-chemicals, and can biodegrade much faster than regular plastic under certain conditions. However, there is little evidence that these bags break down any faster than regular plastic bags once ingested, and thus in an effort to protect the Great Barrier Reef, these bags will also be banned. Any of these bags that are 35µ​m or over will be allowed as they are deemed to be "reusable", however, we encourage you to consider other alternatives as legislation may change in the future.

Why did we write this article?

As we have supplied single-use plastic bags to the public, we feel that we have a responsiblity not just to comply with the ban, but to educate our customers, and retailers in general, about transitioning to more sustainable packaging alternatives.

We hope you've found this article useful - if you have any additional questions, you can find our contact details below.

I still need some guidance. Who do I contact?

If you need help finding an alternative to single-use plastic bags, or have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact us. You can fill out the form below, call us on 1800 555 343 or email us at [email protected]