Plastic Free North Sydney

The aim is to eliminate all single-use plastic in North Sydney.

Council encourages partnerships with local residents, businesses and community organisations to raise awareness and reduce the use of single-use plastic. 

We want to help everyone become single-use plastic-free - to help preserve our environment and avoid waste and litter in our area.

Check our earlier newsletter for a few ideas


Why plastic?

Plastics were developed in the early 20th century and were environmentally important, replacing ivory, tortoiseshell, horn and other plant and animal products. By the 1960s plastic had gone from being used in durable items to widespread use including disposable plastic packaging. Every piece of plastic ever produced still remains somewhere in the earth today which can have harmful effects to both our environment and health.

A few staggering stats:

  • Globally, we now use a million plastic bags a minute.
  • Some sources estimate that 500 million plastic straws are used daily.
  • Every day an estimated 2.25 billion takeaway coffee cups are consumed.
  • Plastic now makes up 75-90% of marine pollution.
  • In Australia the CSIRO’s three year marine survey found that the density of plastic ranges from a few thousand pieces of plastic per sq km to more than 40,000 pieces of plastic per sq km.
  • Plastic can act as a sponge for other toxins in the ocean to cling to, is then ingested by sea creatures and toxins then "biomagnify" up the food chain.
  • In some patches of the ocean the plastic to plankton ratio is up to 46:1
  • We currently recover only 5-10% of the plastics we produce.


North Sydney goes single use plastic free

North Sydney Council has been an early adopter of the plastic free movement, discouraging non-recyclable and single-use materials through its Sustainable Public Events Policy that has been in place since 2012. Council has taken its stance one step further and developed a single-use plastics ban for its operations, events and venues.

Council’s Single-Use Plastics policy (110KB) was adopted on 23 September 2019. After a six month transitional period it will apply to the purchase of any disposable plastic item that is designed to be used once and then discarded. This includes, but is not limited to, disposable cups and lids, straws, bags, cutlery, plates, bottled water, take away containers, single serve sachets and unnecessary packaging. It will apply to Council venues, facilities, parks, reserves, sportsgrounds and pools, as well as commercial tenants in Council-owned properties.

What you can do

Every day we encounter single-use plastic: bags, water bottles, straws, food packaging & takeaway coffee cups. We can all take steps to avoid plastic becoming a problem. Remember your shopping bags and water bottles and refuse to use overpackaged products. You can also attend our plastic free events, workshops or seminars, make a pledge through the Bye Bye Plastic Hello BYO ( campaign, create your own community project and remember to support North Sydney businesses that are using plastic free alternatives.

Check out where to fill your reusable water bottle at our Water Bubblers and Refill station map



We run lots of green events that have a plastic free focus. Check in throughout the year to find a workshop or event that you might be interested in such as natural skincare or living without plastic. Or subscribe to our Green Events monthly newsletter to be notified when our workshops become available.


Free Reusable shopping bags at Council

With Coles, Woolworths and Harris Farm stores no longer giving away free single use bags, Council has free reusable bags available for North Sydney residents at our customer service counter, for a limited time. Please bring proof of your residential address or your rates notice to receive up to 5 bags.


Make your own reusable bag

Join the Lower North Shore Boomerang Bag Volunteers to make re-useable ‘boomerang bags’ using recycled materials, to provide a sustainable alternative to plastic bag. The group meets every Wednesday from 10-12am in the Geddes Room here at Council. Sewing machine not required - and if you do not have one or can’t sew and there are always lots of jobs for everyone!

No need to book, drop ins most welcome!

Can’t sew? Then make your own tote bag out of an old unwanted T-shirt using scissors. Watch this video to see just how easy it is!


Remember your reusable shopping bag:

Download this Door Hanger to remind yourself to BYO bags when leaving the house.


But how do I line my bin?

Many people used the old single use plastic shopping bags as bin liners and now don’t know what to use instead. Some people don’t use bin liners at all and simply wash their bin out regularly. That works best if you compost your food scraps because this keeps the wettest material out of the bin. To help, Council offers half price compost bins and worm farms through the Compost Revolution.

Plastic Free NSW has come up with some great tips and solutions to help overcome “the bin line dilemma”. In summary, by recycling well and using backyard compost bins, or balcony worm farms, households can drastically reduce the volume of waste and the need for bin liners.

With reduced waste, daily household rubbish can fit nicely in a small, round kitchen bin that uses barrier bags or other bags received as packaging. eg. bread bags. Using small bins and emptying them regularly can help keep kitchen odours at bay.

There are also biodegradable and compostable bin lines available in stores and online, but the labels can be confusing. In North Sydney, the organic component of the material in our red bins is composted in an industrial facility, so biodegradable bags and the organic material in them will be processed. Choice has put together a great guide to help you know what terms to look out for:

  • Biodegradable will biodegrade, but generally not as quickly as compostable plastic. Look for products that state they are 100% biodegradable and show the disposal method.

  • Compostable will biodegrade in a commercial compost facility. Look for the Australian Standard number (AS 4736-2006) on the label.

  • Home compostable is the best option if you have a home compost bin. Look for the Australian Standard number (AS 5810-2010) on the label.

But watch out for these:

•Bio-or plant-based means the plastic is made from plant materials rather than fossil fuels, but this doesn't necessarily mean it is biodegradable or compostable.

•Bioplastic is a confusing industry term that has two meanings – it could mean the plastic is biodegradable/compostable or that it is made from plant materials. Ignore this term, as it's not reliable.

•Degradable is neither biodegradable nor compostable.


Community Project

Do you have an idea or initiative that will help eliminate single-use plastic in North Sydney? Contact Council to discuss your idea as we are able to provide ongoing support that includes financial contributions for equipment, promotion and other associated costs for local projects with strong environmental outcomes. No project is too big or small if it helps reduce single-use plastic in North Sydney and we would love to hear from you.


Recycle Soft Plastics

Avoidance is best. But now you can also recycle soft plastics like bread bags, biscuit packets, rice and pasta bags, newspaper wrap and plastic shopping bags at participating Coles and Woolworths stores. To find out more, go to


North Sydney Businesses

North Sydney businesses can join the Plastic Free July campaign by contacting Better Business Partnerships and registering to receive face to face support from a dedicated North Sydney business officer, a sample pack with plastic free alternatives for you to try, along with a promotional pack indicating your business is part of the Plastic Free July campaign in our area.


Download the Plastic Free Business Kit to find out about all the ways you can reduce plastic in your business and also save money and improve your business's sustainability practices.

Plastic free Business Kit - Retail and Food (994KB)

Plastic free Business Kit - Offices (2MB)


Plastic Free July

The challenge is quite simple: do your best to refuse to use, or, if you are a business, refuse to supply single-use plastic.

The Plastic Free in July campaign defines single-use plastic as basically anything intended to be used once and then discarded. If refusing ALL single-use plastic sounds too daunting, just try the TOP 4 challenge (plastic bags, bottles, takeaway coffee cups & straws).

Sign up to Plastic Free in July. You can sign up for a day, a week, the month. Remember, you can start small first - with the plastic that you can most easily avoid.


Useful Links

This blog has 100 simple, easy inspirational ideas to help you start the journey to becoming single-use plastic-free:

You are certainly not alone on this journey, you can learn from these additional resources, ideas, short videos, blogs and information on giving up plastic for good!



Call us on 9936 8100 or email to discuss your single-use plastic free idea or tell us what you are already doing so we can let everyone else know.