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Plastic shopping bags ban successful

By Canfan 5 June 2014 40

The ACT’s plastic shopping bags ban has resulted in a 36% decrease in the amount of plastic bags sent to landfill and is now supported by 65% of Canberra grocery shoppers, a review into the ban has found.

Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Simon Corbell, tabled a review of the first two years of the Plastic Shopping Bags Ban Act 2010 in the Legislative Assembly today.

“A review of the ban has justified the ACT government’s 2011 legislation banning the supply of single-use shopping bags made of polyethylene of 35 microns or less thickness,” Mr Corbell said.

A survey by Piazza Research in March 2014 of 602 people who were all the main grocery shopper in their household found 65% supported the ban, an increase of 7% over a similar survey held in September 2012, while those against the ban fell to 26% from 33%.

“Those supporting the ban said they did so for environmental reasons and agreed the ban has had a positive effect on the environment,” Mr Corbell said.

“Furthermore, 71% said they did not want the ban overturned and 68% said the ban should be implemented nationally.”

An analysis of shopping bag use by Canberra shoppers during six months from May to October 2013 has also shown significant benefits to the environment.

“Using information from major retailers in the territory, we estimated 171 tonnes of plastic bags were sent to landfill, a 36% decrease on the 266 tonnes sent to landfill in the six months prior to the ban.

“Another interesting finding is that while there was an initial increase in sales of bin liners immediately after the ban, sales have now fallen to pre-ban levels, which indicates people are reusing the thicker plastic bags for rubbish or other alternatives.

“The ACT is one of four states and territories to introduce a plastic shopping bag ban and is a prime example of how legislation can drive change and promote behavioural change by the community that improves the environment and reduces waste.”

The review is available at www.environment.act.gov.au

(Media Release Simon Corbell MLA)

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Plastic shopping bags ban successful
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zllauh 11:36 am 28 Jul 15

there is an article about it on canberra times . worth a read.
Some stats might not be absolute correct but tells us a rough scenario.

Maya123 11:16 pm 10 Jun 14

patrick_keogh said :

By way of comparison with some other contributors…

I am happy to take my reusable bags to the supermarket. I have never purchased a reusable bag, the ones I am using I got with (believe it or not) some online purchases several years ago. One broke a handle but we sewed it up again and it is working fine.

Occasionally I forget so I think I probably pay for a bag about once every couple of months. We do make sure that we do get the best use we can out of the bags that do arrive in the household, such as the little bags that I get loose beans, peas etc. in, or the bag that toilet rolls come in. We don’t use bin liners, it is sufficient to make sure that the “bottom layer” is something that will prevent sticky items being directly in the bottom of the bin or that wet/sticky items are popped inside something else before being put in the bin. We do compost all vegetable waste. We don’t have pets so the disposal of shit isn’t one of the things I have to worry about.

Instead of feeling glee when shopping interstate I feel a little uneasy and try hard to minimise bag consumption.

I don’t feel that my actions are virtuous, they are just a normal response to the personal/public environmental and economic trade offs. I think back a couple of decades when we would freely use potable water to wash the driveway, cool the roof of the house etc. but where we have moderated our behaviour in response to water shortage and better education. We can all make small adaptations in our lifestyles that benefit the public good. The statistics seem to back up my anecdotal view that there is less plastic blowing around the streets, floating in our creeks and lakes etc.

Some of the other comments are embarrassing. It seems incomprehensible that the makers of those comments are not embarrassed, as I feel that just by reading them.
As for comments on reusable bags taking more energy to produce, my usable shopping bags are years old. Most are cloth bags and after several years of use still in good condition. One shopping bag I was given (similar to the green bags) has not lasted as well as the cloth bags, but with a bit of mending – the handles were resewn on again – it still is in use. One of my cloth bags came with a purchase, a few were made from scrap material, and a few I purchased as useful holiday souvenirs. They are strong and after more than ten years use are showing no sign of wearing out. I would say after that length of time they have used a LOT less energy than taking new plastic bags each time I shopped. But when they do wear out they are biodegradable and I will cut a hole in the bag, lay it on the ground as mulch, and plant a tomato plant in the hole. I did that with a couple of hessian bags that wore out. I have never bought a bag to throw out with my rubbish. If I wanted to waste my money here, I could save the effort of purchasing the plastic bags and chuck the cost of the plastic bags straight in the bin. Surely the people who can’t be bothered to compost, etc should have no trouble appreciating this labour saving suggestion.

Maya123 4:38 pm 10 Jun 14

Antagonist said :

Mr Corbell is selling fertiliser again. Seriously, from which orifice does he pull these numbers from?

How has plastic bag usage changed around my household? It hasn’t really. Instead of a free bag I pay 10 cents for a super-thick and extra-strong plastic bag to carry my groceries back to the car – usually because I forgot (or could not be bothered) to pull a reusable baggie out of the boot upon arrival at the local shops. We buy rolls of scented bin liners every fortnight in the shopping instead of using those convenient free bags we used to get (and which I also grab by the handful whenever in Quangers). We have a massive supply of the $1 reusable bags as well.

All of them end up in the bin sooner or later. Sometimes full of household rubbish, sometimes full of recycling (time to collect the yellow bins weekly TaMS), and often full of dog sh!t from our Great Dane (the 10 cent extra thick never biodegrade bags are king here). Also filled with anything else my ‘clean freak’ wife decides needs to be turfed out. It does not matter if it is a little bag, big bag or a reusable bag. It will end up at Mugga Lane. The only thing that has changed is that I now have to pay Coles/Woolies for plastic bags that used to be given away for free, and they make some extra money from the addition of bin liners to the fortnightly shopping list.

If you put your recycling in a plastic bag I’m informed that due to H&S it will go straight to landfill and NOT be recycled. If you generate too much recycling rubbish for the fortnightly bin collection, first I would look at what the recycling is and with Reduce, Reuse, Recycle thought in mind think about the first two first; then if there is still too much recycling for the bin there are collection centres you can take it too. A weekly collection of recycling would likely come out of all of our rates, whether we need this extra service or not.
Re plastic bags, most times I find one shopping bag or a bit smaller per one to three weeks is enough for my needs. That’s because I compost, recycle properly and prefer not to bring things home that will likely be thrown out, such as extra packaging. Pretty easy really and never a chore.

patrick_keogh 4:18 pm 10 Jun 14

By way of comparison with some other contributors…

I am happy to take my reusable bags to the supermarket. I have never purchased a reusable bag, the ones I am using I got with (believe it or not) some online purchases several years ago. One broke a handle but we sewed it up again and it is working fine.

Occasionally I forget so I think I probably pay for a bag about once every couple of months. We do make sure that we do get the best use we can out of the bags that do arrive in the household, such as the little bags that I get loose beans, peas etc. in, or the bag that toilet rolls come in. We don’t use bin liners, it is sufficient to make sure that the “bottom layer” is something that will prevent sticky items being directly in the bottom of the bin or that wet/sticky items are popped inside something else before being put in the bin. We do compost all vegetable waste. We don’t have pets so the disposal of shit isn’t one of the things I have to worry about.

Instead of feeling glee when shopping interstate I feel a little uneasy and try hard to minimise bag consumption.

I don’t feel that my actions are virtuous, they are just a normal response to the personal/public environmental and economic trade offs. I think back a couple of decades when we would freely use potable water to wash the driveway, cool the roof of the house etc. but where we have moderated our behaviour in response to water shortage and better education. We can all make small adaptations in our lifestyles that benefit the public good. The statistics seem to back up my anecdotal view that there is less plastic blowing around the streets, floating in our creeks and lakes etc.

justsomeaussie 3:45 pm 10 Jun 14

As I understand this type of policy has just pushed people into using the “reusable bags” bags which cost far far more in energy to produce than plastic bags and where people throw them out far earlier than required.

In essence this policy costs the environment more because it means more “reusuable bags” are created and dumped.

Tenpoints 1:22 pm 10 Jun 14

Attention self-interested parties: The ban has not failed because you don’t believe in it and/or feel unfairly inconvenienced by it.

Try some positive workaround strategies (if you can).
1. Get a compost bin, chuck all your food scraps in there and use it on the garden.
2. Use biodegradable bags in your bins because all your “wet stuff” is now getting naturally recycled. Biodegradable bags last long enough when not explosed to moisture.
3. Buy less plastic, i.e anything made of or wrapped in non-recyclable stuff.
And yes I realise composting is tricky if you live in an apartment.

End result is less waste to landfill => less plastic bags.

Oh and could someone post some science about the energy and/or environmental cost of traditional plastic bags vs the slightly more durable plastic bags vs the much more durable cotton bags?

Incidentally, I wonder if this Redcycle Program is still going? http://redcycle.net.au/redcycle/contact-us
I sent them an email months back but haven’t had a response.

Kalliste 12:32 pm 10 Jun 14

Sebastian Fernandez said :

Am I the only one who gets a great buzz from going to a supermarket in NSW and getting free bags at the checkout ?

I hardly ever go into NSW, and especially not just to steal plastic bags, but last time I was in NSW at a supermarket they offered me a bag for 3 items and I looked a them confused because it had been so long since I’d had it happen.

It looks like I’m one of the odd few here who don’t care about the plastic bag ban, I always have a cloth bag with me and I use a satchel bag so there is always room for things. I very rarely need to buy bags or even think about it.

I quite like not having the explosion of plastic bags shoved in a cupboard somewhere and usually this only happens if I buy online because they deliver everything in plastic bags.

MightyJoe 11:50 am 10 Jun 14

Don’t they say that 81% of all surveys are made up?

Having worked in a role providing statistics to Ministers for Health purposes, really the only question a statistician only needs to ask is ‘what do you want the numbers to say’?

Really, the bag ban has meant nothing… I haven’t (nor has anyone else I sampled in the office) changed using plastic bags in any way, they are used as bin liners, poo bags and whatever else is required – albeit retailers are making $0.60 from me every shop, so if the Gov’ wanted retailers to make a killing in plastic bag sales, then they have probably achieved it. In terms of re-using them for my shopping.. not a chance.

Oh, really the only thing that has been achived (IMO) is that we are the laughing stock of Australia…

davo101 11:26 am 10 Jun 14

gazket said :

A survey of 602 people is hardly 65% of Canberra grocery shoppers.

I’m guessing you haven’t studied statistical sampling. Newspoll uses a sample of 1150 to determine the voting intentions of Australia. So long as the sample is well selected 600 people is plenty to determine the opinion of Canberra’s primary groceries shoppers.

gazket 10:16 am 10 Jun 14

A survey of 602 people is hardly 65% of Canberra grocery shoppers. Labour constantly bullsh%$#$%ng the community .

Grail 8:00 am 10 Jun 14

Masquara said :

During the initial debate on this, I hooked into a conversation among environmentalists who told me that the emissions involved in creating a single house brick are more than those needed to create a lifetime’s supply of plastic bags.

Do bricks blow out to sea and pollute it forever?

http://inhabitat.com/the-fallacy-of-cleaning-the-gyres-of-plastic-with-a-floating-ocean-cleanup-array/

Antagonist 12:32 pm 09 Jun 14

Mr Corbell is selling fertiliser again. Seriously, from which orifice does he pull these numbers from?

How has plastic bag usage changed around my household? It hasn’t really. Instead of a free bag I pay 10 cents for a super-thick and extra-strong plastic bag to carry my groceries back to the car – usually because I forgot (or could not be bothered) to pull a reusable baggie out of the boot upon arrival at the local shops. We buy rolls of scented bin liners every fortnight in the shopping instead of using those convenient free bags we used to get (and which I also grab by the handful whenever in Quangers). We have a massive supply of the $1 reusable bags as well.

All of them end up in the bin sooner or later. Sometimes full of household rubbish, sometimes full of recycling (time to collect the yellow bins weekly TaMS), and often full of dog sh!t from our Great Dane (the 10 cent extra thick never biodegrade bags are king here). Also filled with anything else my ‘clean freak’ wife decides needs to be turfed out. It does not matter if it is a little bag, big bag or a reusable bag. It will end up at Mugga Lane. The only thing that has changed is that I now have to pay Coles/Woolies for plastic bags that used to be given away for free, and they make some extra money from the addition of bin liners to the fortnightly shopping list.

Masquara 9:47 am 09 Jun 14

During the initial debate on this, I hooked into a conversation among environmentalists who told me that the emissions involved in creating a single house brick are more than those needed to create a lifetime’s supply of plastic bags. Unfortunately, I don’t have a reference. But it sounds likely so, please, no sanctimonious “I don’t use plastic bags” posts on environmental grounds!

Grail 12:03 pm 08 Jun 14

I have fewer plastic bags to clean up from my lawn these days. Due to the layout of the street and my block, our front yard is a natural wind-trap for plastic bags.

So I for one am most pleased with the plastic bag ban.

threepaws 12:50 am 08 Jun 14

bigfeet said :

Maya123 said :

Sebastian Fernandez said :

Am I the only one who gets a great buzz from going to a supermarket in NSW and getting free bags at the checkout ?

I hand bags back. Don’t need them. No buzz.

At the self serve checkouts in NSW I only ever put one or two items in each plastic bag, and then I try to jam a couple of extra bags into each bag. My best effort was purchasing eight items and coming home with 38 bags.

A bit over two months worth of free bin liners from one trip across the border.

Suckers!

You are not the only one! That is a great record and one I will now strive to break.

In all seriousness, I think the number of bags I send to landfill has doubled since the ban. I am happy to, and do, take reusable bags with me when shopping. This doesn’t change the fact that supermarket plastic bags are the right size and thickness (ie. not too thick) to line the little bins in my house, as well as a perfect size and strength for emptying kitty litter. You can’t buy bin bags of the same size and strength…

We occasionally cross the border to shop if we’re nearby (sorry ACT economy) and totally hoard the bags. My uncle brings me bags of bags from the bag bins outside of supermarkets in NSW. I find now that I have an excess of bags and use them in a frivolous manner. I have also started doing online shops because they deliver in plastic bags, albeit slightly thicker ones. So, again, sorry ACT economy – where I would used to happily do a fortnightly Woolies shop and duck down to my local IGA every day for the odd thing, now I need to get as much as I can in my Woolies online order to make the delivery fee worthwhile. You could say a bag ban has pushed me to online shopping and is potentially harming my local?

I used to have just the right amount of bags. I never wanted for any, and never ever threw them away. I don’t know anyone that used to throw bags away???

I’d love to know how ‘plastic bag theft’ has affected supermarkets in Queanbeyan and Batemans Bay. I bet their bag usage skyrocketed after the ACT ban was introduced.

rosscoact 12:12 pm 07 Jun 14

Mr Gillespie said :

May I suggest that instead of a BAN, the bags be offered as an alternative? How is coercion and punishment of shopkeepers with fines and legal threats any good to the environment? All it does is force costs up.

Nannyism, fair and square. Don’t understand what nannyism is? Look it up!

It doesn’t force costs up, shops who are charging for bags are gouging and should be avoided.

Mr Gillespie 10:51 am 07 Jun 14

May I suggest that instead of a BAN, the bags be offered as an alternative? How is coercion and punishment of shopkeepers with fines and legal threats any good to the environment? All it does is force costs up.

Nannyism, fair and square. Don’t understand what nannyism is? Look it up!

miz 10:28 am 07 Jun 14

I wonder if they have factored in the long term cost of back problems to check out chicks and chaps, who now have to overload grocery bags because people don’t want to pay for extra ones.

bigfeet 6:34 pm 06 Jun 14

Maya123 said :

Sebastian Fernandez said :

Am I the only one who gets a great buzz from going to a supermarket in NSW and getting free bags at the checkout ?

I hand bags back. Don’t need them. No buzz.

At the self serve checkouts in NSW I only ever put one or two items in each plastic bag, and then I try to jam a couple of extra bags into each bag. My best effort was purchasing eight items and coming home with 38 bags.

A bit over two months worth of free bin liners from one trip across the border. Suckers!

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