Media Releases | 17th Jul, 2006

Free plastic bags to be banned

Monday, 17 July 2006

The Bracks Government’s plan for a ban on free plastic bags from 2009 is a great initiative to reduce the millions of plastic bags that pollute our environment each year, Victoria’s leading green group said today.

Environment Victoria’s zero waste campaign director Jenny Henty welcomed today’s announcement from the State Government, saying that the exemption for retailers who charge a minimum of 10 cents will effectively mean that plastic bags will be levied or banned from 2009.

“We are pleased the Bracks Government is going to stick by its promise to ban free plastic carry bags by 2009. A restriction on carry bags at the check-out is urgently needed to stop billions of plastic bags from continuing to fill up landfill sites, blow around streets, choke our waterways and threaten thousands of animals.

“By introducing legislation now, retailers are on notice that the Government means business and they should prepare now for the restrictions,” Ms Henty said. “We hope that interim reduction targets will be put in place between now and 2009 to measure progress towards the phase-out.”

“Despite encouraging efforts made by many people to take-up reusable bags in reality, unless the government acts to regulate, most stores will remain addicted to throw-away bags,” Ms Henty said.

“While we recognise there will be a need for some exemptions we would not want these to be so broad as to defeat the purpose of the ban.”

Ms Henty said the Victorian Government was taking the lead to ensure that a commitment by all State and Federal Environment Ministers to phase-out of plastic bags by the end of 2008 would be enforced. Victoria is the first state government to do this.

Ms Henty said many governments around the world – including Ireland, South Africa and India – had successfully regulated to reduce plastic bag use.

“When a levy was imposed on plastic bags in Ireland in 2002, use decreased by 90 per cent over a six-month period. Australian retailers that voluntarily charge for carry bags – such as Bunnings, IKEA and ALDI – have proved that a levy will work here to promote reusable bags.”

Environment Victoria also welcomed the Bracks Government’s announcement – made as part of its $200 million Environmental Sustainability Action Statement – to provide $4 million to establish 12 centres across the state to recycle electronic goods, batteries, household paints and chemicals.

“These centres will make it easier for households to safely and responsibly recycle their old computers and dispose of chemicals,” Ms Henty said.

“However we would also like to see companies that make these products play a part in financing recycling and disposal. Taxpayers should not have to subsidise companies that produce wasteful products with incredibly short lifespans.” .