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Goodbye thin plastic bags, hello thicker plastic bags used in exactly the same way

By johnboy - 1 November 2011 97

The Greens’ Caroline Le Couteur is celebrating her puissance and the end of thin plastic bags in Canberra.

(Never mind that nearly every shop has just replaced them with thicker plastic bags, still used disposably. Total win for the environment there.)

“Plastic bags have been a recognised environmental issue for a long time. They are created from oil, they don’t break down in landfill, they can clog waterways, and cause hazards to wildlife,” Ms Le Couteur said today.

“Research on the full life cycle of shopping bag alternatives – accounting for things like water use, energy use, global warming and litter – shows that reusable shopping bags are significantly better for the environment than light weight plastic bags.

“The fact is: getting rid of plastic bags in the Territory will make a positive environmental contribution.

The Liberals Zed Seselja is in a less celebratory sort of mood:

“The benefits of the ban will no doubt be touted today, but we must keep an eye on reality.

“For example, the ban means people will be charged for heavy-duty plastic bags which are likely worse for the environment.

“In South Australia, bin liner sales have doubled the national average since free plastic shopping bags were banned more than two years ago.

“When asked whether shopping bags were an environmental issue, our own local Environmental Protection Agency responded they ‘cannot say it has been one of any great significance.’

“Britain’s Environmental Agency found that shoppers would have to use the same cotton bag every working day for a year to have a lesser impact than a lightweight plastic bag.

“The Productivity Commission found that ‘based on the evidence available to the Commission, it appears that the Australian, State and Territory Governments do not have a sound case for proceeding with their proposed phase out of plastic retail carry bags.’

“Yet despite these facts, the ban will be met with the severest of penalties. For example, shopkeepers who don’t charge for bags can be fined $27,500 – as big a criminal offence as selling alcohol to a minor or taking a minor to a brothel.

“This illogical ban goes against evidence and will inconvenience customers and businesses,” Mr Seselja concluded.

What’s Your opinion?


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97 Responses to
Goodbye thin plastic bags, hello thicker plastic bags used in exactly the same way
Jim Jones 12:19 pm 01 Nov 11

I-filed said :

My civil unrest for one, once my stash of free plastic bags has been used up, will be to shove all my garbage, including organics, into my garbage bin unwrapped. I am not going to buy bin liners!

OCCUPY THE GARBAGE BIN!!!

We are the 99%

I-filed 12:02 pm 01 Nov 11

How is using expensive, thick bin liners going to be better for the environment than the flimsy ones?

I recall that the companies who manufacture both bin liners and the disposable version initially came out against the ban – then quickly recanted when they realised they would make a motza out of expensive bin liners once the ban kicked in.

My civil unrest for one, once my stash of free plastic bags has been used up, will be to shove all my garbage, including organics, into my garbage bin unwrapped. I am not going to buy bin liners!

El_Mariachi 12:01 pm 01 Nov 11

Wowsers! What a diatribe of bumpkin-ism. The purpose of the legislation is clearly to replace petroleum based plastic bags with bio-degradable plastic bags. It may not happen immediately but it’s a useful step on a long road of resource conservation. The bags retailers are selling most likely are bio-degradable. When you get handed a bio-degradable plastic bag by a retailer you can still use it for your bin liner. Get a grip people!

Mysteryman 11:37 am 01 Nov 11

cross said :

RoyBatty said :

Sounds like a waste of time to ban the bags then sell them??

I went to the US this year. Most shops give you a fairly robust paper bag. What’s wrong with that option? No carry handles but if your loading them from the register into a cart then out to the boot of the car it doesn’t really matter. If you need to carry the groceries use a reusable one.

Hmmm cutting trees down for paper bags instead of using a petroleum byproduct ie plastic doesn’t sound to environmentally friendly and probably the worst option. I wonder what they will do that byproduct if plastic is banned ,pump it out to sea or bury it ? Wait ! they could sell to the Chinese to make Iphone’s .

Except that trees are a controllable, renewable resource, and paper bags are easily recycled and made from recyclable material.

cross 11:30 am 01 Nov 11

RoyBatty said :

Sounds like a waste of time to ban the bags then sell them??

I went to the US this year. Most shops give you a fairly robust paper bag. What’s wrong with that option? No carry handles but if your loading them from the register into a cart then out to the boot of the car it doesn’t really matter. If you need to carry the groceries use a reusable one.

Hmmm cutting trees down for paper bags instead of using a petroleum byproduct ie plastic doesn’t sound to environmentally friendly and probably the worst option. I wonder what they will do that byproduct if plastic is banned ,pump it out to sea or bury it ? Wait ! they could sell to the Chinese to make Iphone’s .

Mysteryman 11:24 am 01 Nov 11

Zed is right on the money with this. It’s an idiotic piece of legislation and the Greens are morons for pushing it in the first place.

Sarni 11:22 am 01 Nov 11

The only offence currently established by the odious PLASTIC SHOPPING BAGS BAN ACT 2010 is section 7 which provides
“A retailer commits an offence if—

(a) the retailer supplies a plastic shopping bag to a customer of the retailer; and

(b) the plastic shopping bag is supplied for the customer to carry goods bought, or to be bought, from the retailer. “

There is absolutely no prohibition (and nor should there be) against a customer bringing his own plastic bag to the shop and putting his or her purchases into the plastic bag and taking the bag home. I incite all Canberra shoppers to do this as a protest against extremist Greens legislation.

Bluey 11:13 am 01 Nov 11

Ive been hoarding them for months leading up to this day. Bin liners for months to come.

Can I take my old ones to the shop to re-use? Will I get fined?

Ill probably just buy them on the go anyway If im ducking into coles for 3-4 things which i do frequently.

niftydog 11:12 am 01 Nov 11

Thanks, Caroline. These heavy duty bags you get now last for yonks!

RoyBatty 11:08 am 01 Nov 11

Sounds like a waste of time to ban the bags then sell them??

I went to the US this year. Most shops give you a fairly robust paper bag. What’s wrong with that option? No carry handles but if your loading them from the register into a cart then out to the boot of the car it doesn’t really matter. If you need to carry the groceries use a reusable one.

Classified 11:05 am 01 Nov 11

Wouldn’t it be much easier to simply mandate that plastic bags are biodegradable, and degrade in a specified period of time under most conditions? That we, we can have our bags, have our free bin liners, and when they eventually get to landfill (or anywhere else, like the ocean), they break down to almost nothing anyway.

alaninoz 11:03 am 01 Nov 11

Feel good politics is all.

Jivrashia 10:49 am 01 Nov 11

I believe this is one of those policies that are referred to as…

HALF-ARSED ATTEMPT TO ACHIEVE NOTHING

Bravo…

Thumper 10:37 am 01 Nov 11

Sorry to rain on your parade Caroline but at ten cents a bag I’ll just buy them.

arescarti42 10:27 am 01 Nov 11

I think I probably agree with Zed on this one.

Sure, disposable plastic bags are a horrible pollution issue in developing countries, but this is not my observation in Canberra. I’m sure I’ve read before that a majority of disposable plastic bags are used as bin liners anyway, and the ones that don’t can be recycled.

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