Small businesses in NSW say they have thousands of dollars worth of single-use plastic bags ahead of Wednesday’s statewide ban because they were unaware of the change.
Single-use plastic bags will be banned in NSW from June 1, with businesses facing fines of up to $250k for failing to comply with the new rules.
NSW is the last jurisdiction to ban lightweight plastic bags — they’ve already been banned in every other state and territory — with South Australia’s first banning them way back in 2009.
Camera IconNSW has been slow to implement a ban on single-use plastic bags. Credit: Included
But, according to Labor MP Steve Kamper, small businesses in NSW have been caught off guard.
“I get a lot of calls from retailers (and) wholesalers who say they knew nothing about the ban,” Mr. Kamper said on 2GB Radio.
“We have supported this ban. It went through the House of Representatives in November, and there was plenty of time to communicate with small businesses.
“But we must realize that during that period, we were struggling with Covid lockdowns, and business was going through a really hard time.”
Camera IconMP Steve Kamper (left) says small businesses need more time to adapt. Credit: Included
Mr. Kamper, the shadow minister for small businesses, claimed the government had “abnormally” failed to communicate the change.
“They need to extend the date and give these people time to flush out their stock,” he said.
Environment Secretary James Griffin said the first two weeks of the ban will be about educating companies rather than punishing them as they phase out their stock of single-use bags.
“We will start raising awareness and education from Wednesday, and we will make sure we work with small businesses to help them understand the change that is coming,” Mr. Griffin told 2GB.
Camera IconNSW Environment Minister James Griffin says small businesses have a two-week grace period. NCA NewsWire/Monique Harmer Credit: News Corp Australia
“We look forward to continuing to work with companies in the coming weeks.”
But Mr. Kamper said a two-week grace period wasn’t enough for companies sitting on “thousands and thousands of dollars’ worth of stock.”
“What’s that going to do? Essentially these people are stuck with stocks, it’s not really clear, but it could be illegal to hold the stocks,” he said.
“They’re getting huge fines; they’re worried.”
However, Mr. Griffin said it was important for NSW to catch up with the rest of the country on the plastic bag ban.