WA community want plastic bag ban

Community consultation in WA has found that more 95 per cent of comments on banning plastic bags have been positive.

The ban will affect lightweight plastic bags from 1 July 2018 in order to reduce litter and protect the environment. The ban also includes biodegradable, degradable or compostable – with handles and a thickness of 35 microns or less, often found in supermarkets and retail stores.

More than 4400 people responded by the close of consultation and 90 per cent were also in favour of banning biodegradable, degradable or compostable plastic bags which continue to persist in the environment as microplastics.

The consultation reported a need for a transition period for retailers to prepare customers for alternatives to plastic bags. The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation has announced it will assist retailers in this process.

A WA-wide education campaign will also aim to ensure consumers are encouraged to use reuseable bags.

WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said he wants to work with the community to make the transition towards a plastic bag free WA as easy as possible.

These initiatives reflect the community’s desire to work together to reduce the significant impact of plastic bags, and other waste and litter on our environment,” Mr Dawson said.

“Banning plastic bags is just one of a number of strategic waste reform initiatives demonstrating this Government’s commitment to reducing waste. We have also committed to introducing a container deposit scheme,” he said.

McGowan Government gives green light to bag ban

Lightweight, single-use plastic shopping bags will be banned in Western Australia from July 1 next year.

The statewide ban will bring Western Australia into line with South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory which already have plastic bag bans in place. Queensland has also vowed to ban the bag from July 1, 2018.

Plastic bags make up a relatively small portion of solid waste and litter but can significantly harm marine wildlife and birds which can inadvertently eat or become entangled in plastic bag waste.

The WA government said its plastic bag ban has garnered widespread support across the local government sector in recent months and among major retailers which are some of the biggest suppliers of plastic shopping bags.

Major supermarkets Coles, Woolworths and IGA have indicated their intention to ban single-use plastic bags while some WA retailers – including Aldi and Bunnings – already support the ban by not offering single-use plastic bags to their customers.

“The community and the retail industry have already been working to reduce the consumption of single-use plastic bags for more than a decade,” WA Premier Mark McGowan said.

“The number of plastic bags used every year continues to grow and therefore it’s time for the State Government to act, in the absence of a national approach.

“There are alternatives to single-use plastics and we need to move beyond single-use items and promote sustainable futures for our children.”

“We will continue our efforts to reduce the amount of waste generated, prevent littering, increase material recovered from the waste stream, and reduce waste destined for landfill,” said Environment Minister Stephen Dawson.

The Project pairs with Clean Up Australia to ban the bag

Plastic bags for recycling

Channel Ten’s The Project is leading a campaign with Clean Up Australia to ban plastic bags in New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia.

On Wednesday night’s show, written by host Waleed Aly and The Project‘s managing editor Tom Whitty, state premiers were urged to have the courage to ban the bags to save the environment.

Aly challenged NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, and WA Premier Mark McGowan to step up.

“A Senate Inquiry into marine plastic pollution from last year recommended the federal government support the states to ban plastic bags,” Aly said.

“Unless we give them a push, nothing will change, and you and I will keep using plastic bags. But we can change this. You can change this. So now’s the time to be heard.”

Clean Up Australia has endorsed the push.

If the states agree, it would result in a nationwide ban on single-use plastic bags, with South Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory and the ACT having already banned them, while Queensland plans to ban them from next year.

Viewers were urged to sign a Change.org petition to show their support for a ban, as well as writing to each state premier. The petition received almost 6000 signatures in half an hour.

Aly said each plastic bag is used for 12 minutes on average – then up to 6 billion each year are thrown into landfill across Australia, taking hundreds of years to break down.

Terrie-Ann Johnson, managing director of Clean Up Australia, said people don’t really think about the environmental impact of plastic bags.

“It’s really frustrating because these things are having an enormous impact on the environment. They’re killing our precious wildlife. We don’t need plastic bags,” she told The Project.

“Let’s put aside landfill for a minute and think about the 80 million plastic bags that end up in our litter stream. Think about the poor animal in the marine environment that chokes or it starves because it’s got a gutful of non-nutritious material. It’s a horrible, horrible death.

“Internationally, Australia is really lagging behind the rest of the world.”

Federal environment minister Josh Frydenberg told The Project he supported all states introducing a ban, while supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths said they would comply with such a ban.