22 August 2022

Probing the polls: landlord rights and plastic 'barrier bag' bans

| Genevieve Jacobs
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reusable bags sitting on top of lemons and limes

Customers who spend $5 on fruit and vegetables in Coles stores between 31 August and 13 September will receive a free pack of these reusable bags. Photo: Martin Keep.

Readers are evenly split on whether landlord or tenant rights prevail, according to last week’s poll.

The ACT Government has announced plans to modernise tenancy laws, and says the changes will create more secure housing and a fairer rental system in an environment of soaring rents and extremely low vacancy rates.

The bill proposes laws to remove ”no cause evictions”, which has been a consistent complaint from tenants. But what about landlords’ rights to evict tenants from houses they own, maintain and on which they pay rates and charges?

Incidental Tourist wrote: “Those advocating tenants’ ‘power imbalance’ have forgotten that for each tenant claiming their entitlement to a ‘home for all’, someone else has to be willing to take up a mortgage first. Do ‘mum and dad’ investors deserve contempt and financial loss because they invest in a rental property in ACT?”

We asked: Should landlords be able to evict tenants at will? Some 946 readers responded.

Your choices to vote were: No, tenants have rights around their homes. This received 46 per cent of the total, or 435 votes. Alternatively, you could vote: Yes, they own the property and have the final say. This received 54 per cent of the total, or 511 votes.

This week we’re wondering whether you think plastic bags should be banned for fruit and vegetables?

Coles has announced this week that from Wednesday, 14 September, plastic fresh-produce bags will no longer be available for use in any of its 12 supermarkets across the ACT. It’s expected the plan will reduce about 11 tonnes of plastic waste each year.

READ ALSO Coles to trial country’s first fruit and veg plastic bag ban in the ACT

The lightweight material can’t be recycled easily and contributes to waste in waterways, posing a threat to wildlife, which ingests all or part of the plastics.

The so-called ”barrier bags” were expected to be banned across the Territory in July this year at the same time as plastic straws and cotton buds with plastic sticks were, but Minister for Recycling Chris Steel says he won’t enact a Territory-wide ban until the replacement bags can be composted at scale.

Meanwhile, Coles is giving away a three-pack of reusable mesh produce bags to customers who spend $5 in-store on fruit and veggies from 31 August until 13 September. Those bags are made from 90 per cent recycled materials and can also be purchased at the supermarket.

But what’s the alternative to a plastic bag for your brussels sprouts? How do you carry home a week’s worth of snow peas without a plastic bag? Can we enact a ban without having any readily available alternatives?

This week we’re wondering whether you think we should follow Coles’ lead on the bag ban?

Our poll question this week is:

Should the ACT ban plastic fruit and vegetable bags?

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Of course they shouldn’t ban the bags until they can provide an equivalent that is biodegradable.
I do not have the time or inclination to have washed bags that are specifically for fruit and veg.
Soon enough we’ll be asked to bring along our own baskets and trolleys.
Paper bags are not a solution, as with a hint of moisture they break apart. I suspect they probably use more energy to produce than plastic bags.

Why do ‘they’ have to provide an alternative? People can bring their own bags or containers. If you can’t be bothered, then it’ll cost you to buy new bags each time. That’s your choice. BTW paper bags work fine, as do string bags and many other types of bags.

I have been bringing home fruit and vegetables without the supplied plastic bags for decades, so I don’t get complaints. It’s easy and involves little though, and it’s absolutely no hassle at all not taking the plastic bags. Most go into my washable (YES regularly washed) bag, including loose beans. A few I bring along waste plastic bags for, but very little needs these. Plastic bags can also be washed and reused, as long as they didn’t have meat in them, as that smell remains. If one day there are no waste plastic bags (which I try to avoid getting, but almost impossible to avoid all), I would find it not a problem to bring containers. In fact I would like to bring containers now.

We shop and Fyshwick food markets and note that fruit and veg places now offer paper bags. Not always practical for bigger items, but then again I don’t put bigger items like oranges, bananas, lemons, carrots in a bag. I think it’s weird that people do. We put the bags in the compost.

Paper bags can be re-used and are really good for storing crackers and other crispy things in, as they keep them crisp by soaking up any moisture. Much better than plastic.

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