Ever forgotten your reusable shopping bag at home and didn’t want to buy a new one? You’re not alone! ‘Borrow a Bag’ schemes are starting to pop up around Canberra to help environmentally conscious shoppers and the ACT Greens want it to be rolled out Territory-wide.
‘Bag Stations’ have already been set up in some shopping centres and local stores so customers can take or leave reusable bags on one of the hooks provided.
ACT Greens’ member Caroline Le Couteur wants to increase schemes like this to help reduce the waste that eventually ends up in landfill.
“There’s nothing more annoying than heading out for your weekly grocery shop, only to realise you’ve left your reusable bags at home,” Ms Le Couteur says.
“Schemes like this are a great way to reduce waste, and for members of the community to help each other out.”
The Greens have called for the government to phase out certain single-use plastics by 2022.
The ACT government and Minister for Recycling and Waste Reduction Chris Steel says there is strong community support for phasing out certain unnecessary single-use plastics, following consultations with the public throughout the year.
Minister Steel says he’s engaged in community consultation around what specific items should be banned or retained, as opposed to whether single-use plastics should be banned or not.
According to a discussion paper released by the government in October, around 90 per cent of 2770 survey responders wanted to see polystyrene, plastic stirrers and straws, plastic-lined coffee cups and lids, plastic plates and cups and takeaway containers all phased out.
“Canberrans strongly held the view that action needs to be taken to phase-out single-use plastics with a transition to readily available alternatives,” Minister Steel said last month when the discussion paper was released.
“Importantly, the huge majority of the community supports strong government regulatory action to ban problematic and unnecessary single-use plastics, rather than just non-regulatory responses.”
Single-use plastics bags were banned in the ACT in 2011, and while shoppers are largely bringing their own bags, everybody forgets every now and then, Ms Le Couteur says.
Local shops around Ainslie, Cook, Hackett, and Woden have already adopted the Borrow a Bag scheme, with the Greens encouraging Canberrans to talk to their local retailers about implementing the scheme.
“At a time when more Canberrans are doing their bit in the ‘War on Waste’, this is an easy way to help more Canberrans cut down on single-use plastic,” Ms Le Couteur says.
“I don’t think that this is something that needs the [Legislative] Assembly. If you look at your local shop, there’s probably a place they can have it – talk to your local supermarket, it’s happening in other places and it’s working.
“That’s all we need, to encourage and inspire people to make it happen at their local shops.”
Ms Le Couteur says that the Greens are also committed to diverting more waste away from landfill as a part of the ACT Climate Change Strategy 2019-2025.
The government has called the strategy one of the most ambitious climate action strategies in the world, aiming to reduce emissions across the Territory by 50 to 60 per cent below 1990 levels by 2025, and achieving zero net emissions by 2045.