If we really all were enamoured of Simon Corbell’s plastic bag laws one would imagine he wouldn’t need to tell us about it.
A new survey of the use of plastic shopping bags in the ACT has shown that 70% of Canberrans want to see the ban of lightweight plastic bags continue while 66% of people would like the ban to be implemented nationally, Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Simon Corbell said today.
“The interim review of the ban shows that 84% of Canberrans now carry a re-usable bag with them when doing their shopping instead of relying on bags at the counter,” Mr Corbell said.
The Government committed to an interim review of the ban on lightweight shopping bags after a 12 month period of the ban in operation.
A telephone survey of primary shoppers in 600 ACT households was conducted as part of the review and highlighted that the majority of shoppers from every age group supported the ban.
The review evaluated community acceptance, reduction in plastic bag use, environmental outcomes and retailer compliance.
Mr Corbell said a more broad ranging review would take place after two years of the operation of the lightweight plastic bag ban.
“This interim review gives us an important snapshot of the views in the ACT community about the ban, but after another 12 months we will be able to look more closely at trends of plastic bag use, and reductions of bags to landfill,” he said.
“I am pleased to see that during the first 12 months there were no infringements issued to retailers breaching the ban, and I encourage this good compliance behaviour to continue.”
Some might see a total absence of found infringements in less glowing terms.
“Unfortunately one unintended and perverse outcome of the ban, as it is currently legislated, is the provision of non compostable and thicker plastic bags as a replacement to the banned lightweight plastic type.
Mr Rattenbury said the legislation needs to be improved to ensure that fully compostable plastic bags are the only kind allowed in the ACT.
“In the interim report, 94% of people indicated that they would like all plastic bags to be completely biodegradable, and I’ll be pursuing an amendment to the legislation to make sure this happens.
“A current exemption in the legislation means that retailers can currently give customers compostable lightweight plastic bags for free. Rather than providing these bags retailers are getting around the legislation by simply providing, at a cost to the consumer, thicker non-compostable plastic bags.
“Many of the bags that are called ‘degradable’ simply break into a thousand plastic pieces and never actually biodegrade.
“All in all, these substitutes run the risk of defeating the purpose of the plastic bag ban”, said Mr Rattenbury.