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.