Media Releases | 24th May, 2006

Governments must stand up to industry on plastic bags

Wednesday, 24 May 2006

The failure of the big supermarkets to reach their agreed plastic bag reduction target of 50% by the end of 2005 should trigger immediate regulatory action, green groups said today.

Total Environment Centre (TEC) and Environment Victoria (EV) have called on the federal and state governments to stick to their promise to regulate retailers.

The report by the big supermarkets, released yesterday, shows that they have only reduced plastic bags by 45%. Small retailers representing 43% of the market have not even begun to reduce bag use, the groups said.

“It’s time to ban the free bag once and for all,” said Jeff Angel, TEC Director.

“The retail sector was given a fair chance to reduce plastic bag use voluntarily and has failed to the tune of 190 million bags in the last year alone.

“Allowing them to continue stall for another year as the Federal Environment Minister suggests, and then even more years before there is a complete phase-out, would be a complete waste of time.

“It’s a political and environment win-win to get rid of them now.”

“Australia remains addicted to plastic bags with more than 4 billion handed out last year even with a drop in supermarket consumption of 45 per cent,” said EV Zero Waste Campaign Director, Jenny Henty.

“In 2003 Environment Ministers agreed to a voluntary reduction code that aimed for a 25% reduction by end 2004 and a 50% reduction by end 2005.

“The Australian National Retailers Association claims they want to reduce plastic bags but at the same time they are talking of introducing dodgy degradable plastic bags which are just as dangerous to wildlife.

“These degradable bags break down into non-biodegradable plastic pieces and should be banned.

“How long will the Federal and State Governments sit idly by when it’s clear the voluntary system isn’t working?” said Ms Henty.