Victoria says goodbye to single use shopping bags
20 June 2019 at 8:32 am
Lightweight, single-use plastic shopping bags are set to be banned from all Victorian food and retail stores, with conservation groups labelling the move as a first step in the long fight on plastic waste.
The legislation, introduced in Victorian parliament on Wednesday, bans all lightweight plastic shopping bags, including bags made from degradable, biodegradable and compostable plastic.
It will also apply to bags being provided at retail outlets including supermarkets, fashion boutiques, fast food outlets, convenience stores and service stations.
Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio said that work was underway with the National Retailers Association to prepare businesses for the ban and provide sustainable packaging alternatives.
“We’ve been working closely with businesses to plan for the ban ahead of November and we’ll continue to look at ways we can reduce other types of plastic pollution across Victoria,” D’Ambrosio said.
Richard Leck, WWF head of oceans, told Pro Bono News the wider ban of plastic bags was a good next step, building on the move by supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths to ban single use plastics.
“Coles has announced that they have diverted over 1.7 billion single use plastic bags from going to landfill as a result of the ban they individually implemented, so this is a good next step” Leck said.
He also said that it would get people talking about the issue and change consumer habits.
“What we know is that from the experience in other jurisdictions and other states, banning single use plastic bags really changes the way consumers shop.”
He said he hoped that the Victorian state government would take further action like introducing a container deposit scheme which pays the public to take back plastic, aluminum or glass containers for recycling.
“It’s surprising because all other jurisdictions in Australia have either introduced or are planning to introduce a container deposit scheme,” he said.
“It really transforms community behaviour and attitudes towards recycling plastics, because putting a value on containers activates a whole range of the community to get active in this space.”
He added that national action had to be taken to phase out all single use plastics.
“We’ve seen in many countries in the European Union, in Canada and in India, set targets for phasing out damaging single use plastics that go way beyond just a ban on plastic bags,” he said.
“They include things like takeaway cutlery, balloons, cotton buds, all those things that we don’t need anymore, and that’s what we want to see the Australian government step up to as well.
“So I think the Victorian government should be applauded by taking this ban into legislation but they also need to recognise that it’s just a step on quite a long journey to change our attitudes towards plastic.”