Single-use Plastic Free Queensland

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Wildlife Queensland took over the Plastic Bag Free Queensland campaign from Queensland Conservation Council in January 2015, and with our colleagues the Boomerang Alliance, who focused on a container refund scheme for bottles and cans, we set about lobbying for both a plastic bag ban and a container refund scheme.

Read a potted history (2017—2023) of our campaign below.

July 2017

Plastic-free schoolsplastic straws and cutlery

Advice to all schools about plastic-free fetes and helium balloons distributed by Wildlife Queensland in July 2017

To help schools transition to plastic-free fetes and reduce single-use plastics, Wildlife Queensland drafted guidelines for use by all schools. In 2017 these were distributed to all schools in the State, along with specific advice on helium balloon releases (pdf).

Whilst we have not monitored the effect of our materials, it is clear that many schools have got the message and both P&Cs and teachers are now actively taking steps to make their schools and their school fetes plastic-free.

July 2018

Plastic bag banplastic bags

Ban on all lightweight plastic bags introduced in Queensland in July 2018

With a new commitment to introduce a bag ban coming from the ALP Government in 2015, Wildlife Queensland ran a political lobbying and community awareness campaign to get plastic bags banned as soon as possible.

  • We developed policies, adopted by national groups.
  • We promoted and presented at a number of forums.
  • We supported a Government discussion paper on a ban that received over 26,000 submissions, with the vast majority supporting a ban.
  • We lobbied all political parties to get full support for the introduction of a ban.

In November 2016, Wildlife Queensland spoke at the announcement by the LNP Opposition to support the proposed ban and backed this up a week later when the State Government announced the introduction of a ban on lightweight plastic bags (including compostable and biodegradable bags).

Read more

October 2018

Helium balloons

LGAQ voted to support a ban on helium balloon releases in October 2018. State Government confirmed helium balloon releases were an act of littering

Wildlife Queensland has continuously lobbied for a legislated ban on the deliberate release of helium balloons.

  • We have published reports and been a regular public voice in the media.
  • In 2015, we made headlines with our complaint about balloon releases at the EKKKA.

In 2017, the State Government confirmed that the deliberate release of helium balloons was an act of littering.

We also helped draft a motion by Brisbane City Council that led to the local government association voting to support a call for a state ban on helium balloon releases. This has been backed by many local governments imposing a ban on the practice.

November 2018

Container Refund Scheme© Wildlife Queensland

Container refund scheme introduced in Queensland in November 2018

Wildlife Queensland backed the Boomerang Alliance campaign for container deposits, in parallel with our plastic bag campaign. We helped bankroll a public campaign in key coastal communities on the Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Cairns and Central Queensland that sent a very clear message to politicians about the level of public support for a scheme.

In 2017, the State Government introduced legislation to ban lightweight plastic bags and introduce a container refund scheme in Queensland in 2018. The bill was passed unanimously. 

As of April 2022, Containers for Change have recycled more than five billion containers across Queensland since the start of the scheme in November 2018.

Find out more about the Container Refund Scheme and how you can donate your refund to help our native wildlife.

November 2019 – October 2021

Phasing out single-use plasticsPlastic waste campaign

Queensland announced phase-out of certain single-use plastics in November 2019

Our next agenda has been focused on single-use plastic takeaway items. Items such as straws, cutlery, containers and cups. These items represent about 36 per cent of all litter in Queensland. Wildlife Queensland continues to back the Boomerang Alliance Plastic Free Places campaign to phase these out and has supported the campaign to get the State Government to act.


In November 2019, the State Government released a Plastic Pollution Reduction Plan

The plan included proposals to introduce a legislated ban on plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery and plates in 2020 and, after further investigation, coffee cups, other plastic items and heavyweight plastic bags.

In early 2000, the QLD Govt. invited feedback on the Single-Use Plastic Items Consultation Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS)

The RIS was developed to evaluate banning the sale or supply of particular single-use plastic products in Queensland.

Wildlife Queensland supported a ban on single-use plastics in Queensland.

The consultation period ended on 30 April 2020 and the State Government reported that over 19,500 submissions and surveys were received. This included 600 individual submissions. Over 90 per cent of responses supported a ban on single-use plastics.

Queensland Government tabled legislation to ban plastic takeaway straws, stirrers, cutlery, plates and bowls on 15 July 2020

Queensland became the second state, after South Australia, to introduce legislation to ban these products. When passed it would mean these products could not be sold or provided in Queensland after July 2021. An exemption for those with disabilities having access to products they need, and for products that are certified compostable to the Australian Standard, was included.

With South Australia and the ACT, Queensland led the national policy debate to get rid of these problematic plastic takeaway items.

Queensland announced plans to ban other plastic takeaway items on 11 March 2021

In a historic decision, the Queensland Parliament unanimously passed the Waste Reduction and Recycling (Plastic Items) Amendment Bill 2020 to ban certain single-use plastics from use. From 1 September 2021, plastic straws, stirrers, cutlery, plates and bowls and expanded polystyrene cups and containers were banned.

The Queensland Government intends to add other plastic items such as coffee cups/lids, other plastic takeaway items and heavyweight plastic bags after further investigation.

The Boomerang Alliance ran a series of forums across Queensland from July to October 2021 for community groups to learn how to become ban compliant.

July 2021

Helium balloons

The Boomerang Alliance releases its position statement on helium balloons in July 2021

Wildlife Queensland and the Boomerang Alliance called on all State and Territory governments to ban helium balloon releases throughout Australia and urged people to join the Boomerang Alliance’s Plan on stopping the release of lighter-than-air balloons.

Dec 2021

Second tranche plastic bans

Plastic coffee cup

The Qld Govt announced a second tranche of proposed plastic bans.

Items proposed to be banned include:

  • coffee cups and lids
  • plastic cups and lids
  • plastic balloon and cotton bud sticks
  • produce bags
  • polystyrene trays
  • plastic newspaper wraps
  • all oxo-degradable plastics
  • heavyweight plastic bags.
Reusable, non-plastic or certified compostable items are to be exempt from the ban, and no date for the ban has been set. Boomerang Alliance suggested adding plastic takeaway containers and that the ban be introduced ASAP in 2022.
March 2022

UN resolution to establish global marine plastics treaty

Penguin caught in plastic

A UN resolution to establish a historic International Marine Plastics Treaty to reduce plastic waste and micro-plastics in the world's oceans is passed on 2 March 2022.
Aiming to target marine plastic in all its form, the legally binding plastic pollution treaty is due to be finalised by 2024.
July 2022

Second tranche plastic bans confirmed

Cotton buds© Canva NFP

On 1 July 2022, the Queensland Government announced a ban on further single-use plastic items from 1 September 2023.

The following single-use plastic items will be banned from 1 September 2023:

  • cotton buds with plastic stems
  • expanded polystyrene loose packaging
  • plastic microbeads in rinseable personal care and cleaning products
  • heavyweight plastic shopping bags
  • mass release of lighter than air (helium) balloons.

A proposed 5–year roadmap has been prepared to show how the Queensland Government plans to continue to work with suppliers, manufacturers and businesses on the inclusion of additional single-use plastic items in the ban, including single-use takeaway coffee cups and lids.

April 2023

Glass wine, spirit bottles to be part of CRS

Glass bottles© Canva NFP

On 20 April 2023, the Queensland Government announced the expansion of its Containers for Change program to include glass wine and spirit bottles from 1 November 2023.

The expansion means Queenslanders will get 10 cents for every glass wine and spirit bottle deposited at one of over 360 container refund points across the state.

The commitment to expand the scheme followed an extensive consultation period, where more than 6,600 Queenslanders shared their thoughts about including additional containers in the refund program.

The majority of participants favoured more containers being made eligible for refunds through the program.

Balloon releases banned

The mass release of helium balloons is banned in Queensland from 1 September 2023. See the timeline above.

Wildlife Queensland and the Boomerang Alliance called on all State and Territory governments to ban helium balloon releases throughout Australia and urged people to join the Boomerang Alliance’s Plan on stopping the release of lighter-than-air balloons.

Read about the impact released balloons have on our wildlife, and Boomerang Alliance’s position statement on balloons.

Footage & Images: Canva NFP and No Balloon Release Australia

Latest campaign news

Containers for Change looks to expand© Canva NFP

Containers for Change looks to expand

Queensland’s popular containers for change program could soon be expanded to include glass wine and spirit bottles to ramp up recycling, put money back into the pockets of Queenslanders and charities, and protect the state’s environment and great lifestyle.

read more

Authorised by Des Boyland, Secretary, Wildlife Preservation Society of Queensland, Suite 1, Level 1, 30 Gladstone Road, Highgate Hill, Brisbane, Qld 4101.

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