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Australian Eco News



Plastic bag ban passed by ACT Assembly

18th JUNE 2011

After a four-month transition period starting on 1 July 2011, the full ban will come into effect on 1 November 2011, 

Legislation to reduce the presence of plastic shopping bags in the ACT's waste stream was passed into law in the Legislative Assembly, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, Simon Corbell, said.

"This is an important step forward in reducing the amount of plastic bags that are entering the waste stream, and waste that does not break down for many hundreds of years," Mr Corbell said.

The ban applies to single use plastic shopping bags of 35 microns or less, generally the type distributed through supermarkets, grocery stores and takeaway food outlets.

"This transition period is designed to allow the Government to work with retailers and industry to educate them on the changes and what alternatives are available," Mr Corbell said.

"It is important that we also engage with the community on what this ban will mean for them on issues like what bags will remain available, and alternative options will be provided by retailers."

The ban will not apply to a range of other bags including barrier bags of the type dispensed from a roll to hold items such as fruit, heavier retail bags especially those used in department stores, reusable ‘green' bags, purchased bin liners, compostable bags that meet the Australian Standard, and paper bags.

"We can all play a role in finding more environmentally friendly ways to carry our shopping home, including by using reusable bags," Mr Corbell said.

"It is disappointing to see that this legislation is not being supported by all parties in this Assembly, and it is just more evidence that the Canberra Liberals are more interested in opposition for opposition's sake, rather than what is best for our local environment," Mr Corbell added.

"To ensure a smooth transition, the Government will work with industry and consumer groups through the formation of a Plastic Bag Advisory Group."

For more information on the ban, go to 





Western Australia


Move for WA ban on plastic bags

January 2, 2010


Plastic shopping bags would be banned in Western Australia under a plan to be tabled when parliament resumes in Perth in February.

Opposition environment spokeswoman Sally Talbot on Saturday announced she would introduce a private member's bill to ban plastic shopping bags, of which it is estimated some 400 million are used in the state each year.  "Only about three per cent are recycled. The rest end up either in our environment or in landfill," Dr Talbot said in a statement.

Despite much talk of a national ban on plastic shopping bags, there has been no country-wide agreement. Dr Talbot said it was time for West Australia to take a stand and follow the example set by states such as South Australia where a ban is already in place. "Several WA councils and communities including Albany and Fremantle have moved to eliminate plastic bag use and there is wide support for a ban from all round Western Australia," she said.

"Nobody is in any doubt that plastic bags cause environmental damage."









Margaret River's River Fresh IGA cuts plastic bags consumption by 13000 per week.

River Fresh IGA Supermarket February 2009 


In a major initiative, Margaret River-based supermarket River Fresh IGA has set the agenda for environmental change in Western Australia by driving through a substantial reduction in the use of plastic bags by its shoppers.

In just a short period, the supermarket has been able to reduce the number of single-use plastic bags being taken by grocery shoppers at its check-outs from an average of 13,555 per week to 1079, and it has an overall objective of eliminating plastic bag usage entirely over time..

After surveying its customers and receiving strong support, River Fresh IGA introduced a 10 cent charge on its single-use plastic bags in early February in the hope most of its customers would adopt reusable shopping bags instead..

The program has been enormously successful, and since the launch River Fresh IGA has effectively kept more than 220,000 single-use plastic bags out of general circulation, with around 85 per cent of its customers having chosen to buy reusable bags. Over the course of 2009, the business expects to have cut down its plastic bag consumption by around 650,000.

“As a business we have a very strong environmental focus and this program has been enormously successful to date as our shoppers have taken decisive action to stop their use of plastic bags, most of which end up in landfill,” says River Fresh IGA owner Debbie O’Connor.

“The majority of our customers are very happy with this initiative. Margaret River is a very green oriented place, and there have been a lot of people bringing in their bags and wanting to do their bit right from the beginning. Those people have really embraced it,” Debbie says.

All funds raised from the 10 cents per plastic bag levy are being donated to local charities, with the State Emergency Service being the main recipient to date.

In 2000, River Fresh IGA became the first supermarket in Western Australia to incorporate a recycling program for cardboard, paper and green waste.

Cardboard and paper can be placed in special bins at the supermarket, and green waste, which is also placed in designated bins, can be taken by customers for mulch or for their animals. Another bin is designated for plastic bags, which customers can bring back to be recycled.

“We are doing everything in our power to keep Margaret River and our surrounding areas free from pollution, and I really believe the message is getting through given the take-up of our reusable shopping bags program in place of plastic bags,” Debbie says.

Colin Stephenson, managing director of reusable bags supplier Estring Bags, has applauded the results achieved by River Fresh IGA.

“Australians consume 6.9 billion plastic bags each year, and 50 to 80 million plastic shopping bags end up as wind blown litter around Australia,” Colin says. “It’s a huge environmental issue, so River Fresh IGA needs to be congratulated for taking the initiative on this. They haven’t waited for government legislation to be introduced but have just made a decision as a business to take that step now.

“On a national level, you can see how quickly we could reduce plastic bag consumption by tens of millions per year if other retailers took the same approach.”

Debbie says the results have been “fantastic”, and expects plastic bags consumption will total about 53,000 this year, instead of 700,000, a 92% reduction.

“Together we can make a difference, but it does take everybody – the retailers, the community and the suppliers to offer better alternatives.”

For further information,

contact: Debbie O’Connor River Fresh IGA 08 9757 3733

Victoria 05.28.07

Two school children have beaten off adult competition from around Australia to dazzle the United Nations with their campaign to banish plastic shopping bags from Armstrong Street in Middle Park, Australia. And, after the project reduced plastic bag use in the shopping strip by 34 per cent in its first four months, they have been selected as finalists for the United Nations Association of Australia's 2007 World Environment Day more:

Council appeals for shoppers to dump plastic bags

17 January 2007

THE people of Cockatoo are being urged to swap plastic bags for more environmentally friendly alternatives.

Cardinia Shire Council and Sustainability Victoria are joining forces with Cockatoo retailers to take up the challenge to make the town plastic bag-free.

The people of Cockatoo are invited to join the challenge, which will start on Australia Day, Friday, 26 January.

The campaign “Cockatoo: a plastic bag free town” will be launched at Alma Treloar Reserve, Pakenham Road on Friday, 26 January between 10am and noon as part of the town’s Australia Day celebrations.

Townspeople will be given free reusable cloth shopping bags, badges and fridge magnets and can enter the plastic bag hat competition for the chance to win some great prizes.

Children can also win prizes by entering a poster competition.

Ranges Ward councillor Graeme Legge said that after the launch of the campaign, retailers will be urging their customers to say no to plastic bags. Cr Legge said people need to also make sure they remember to use their reusable bags whenever they shop in Cockatoo.

“The challenge target is for 80 per cent of retailers in Cockatoo to become plastic bag-free by next year’s Australia Day,” he said.

Cr Legge said research has shown that an average Australian household uses 490 plastic bags each year.

He said people use plastic bags for a short period but the bags have a lifespan of 10 to 1,000 years and in that time have the potential to harm wildlife and pollute the environment.

“By going plastic bag-free, the community of Cockatoo will become part of the solution to the plastic bag problem,” Cr Legge said. “Many of the participating retailers are already selling reusable bags and we hope the launch of this initiative will mean more retailers and the community will start saying no to plastic bags.”

Retailers participating in the challenge include Cockatoo Licensed Supermarket, Cockatoo General Store, Cockatoo Pharmacy, TLC Fruit ‘n Veg, Cockatoo Bakery, Bailey Road Takeaway, Cockatoo LPO, and Rainbow’s End.

People wanting to take part in the challenge can get reusable shopping bags from any of these retailers.

For more information on the challenge contact Tammy Sherar at Cardinia Shire Council on 5945 4304.

By Andrew Carswell
22nd July, 2006 12:00

According to the Daily Telegraph, shoppers may soon have to pay 20c for each plastic grocery bag they use at supermarkets. The State Government is considering imposing a plastic bag levy following similar moves made by the Victorian Government in recent months.From 2008, large Victorian retailers will be banned from offering free lightweight plastic bags and will be charged a minimum of 10c a bag.

A spokesman for Environment Minister Bob Debus told The Saturday Daily Telegraph yesterday the Government was keen to move in that direction.

Full report:

NSW, Campbelltown

Hats off to Campbelltown City Council’s - ‘Say No to Plastic Bags’ Competition
press release: 23 August 2005

The ‘Say No To Plastic Bags And Bag Yourself A Better Environment’ competition organised recently by Campbelltown City Council has generated a heap of interesting entries. One of the most creative came from the South West Branch of Sydney Wildlife Services, which plans to use 25 of the 500 calico bags it won as “pouches” for all the rescued joeys and possums it takes to community days and schools. “What better way to advertise,” said Marilyn Soulsby, Fundraising Officer for the Service. “ ‘Plastic Out – Calico In’ is our caption.” The aim behind the exciting competition was to urge local residents to avoid using plastic bags and encourage the use of an environmentally-friendly alternative. Entrants had to write in 50 words or less how many calico bags they would need and what they would do with them to spread the ‘Say No to Plastic Bags’ message. Council received entries from schools, charities and community groups based right across the Campbelltown Local Government Area. A large number of entries were from school students, whose consensus was that they would use the calico bags as Library Bags. However, Ingleburn North Public School topped the charts with a list of some 32 innovative ways in which they would use their bags, including as a sports bag, to carry computer software, and for out-of-school excursions. Australians use more than six billion plastic bags every year. On average, 80 million of those end up in our waterways, with disastrous consequences to our environment. A team of Stream Care students at John Therry High School is raising awareness of the dangers of this to both our local community, and to the millions of Indians who reside along the Ganges River. If the students win the competition, they will use the calico bags showbags to raise money for a water filtration unit for the Ganges.

Other outstanding entries include:

- The City of Campbelltown Meals on Wheels Service – who will use their calico bags to pack and deliver meals to their clients
- Macarthur Youth Services Network - who distributed their bags at the Youth Services Awareness Expo
- The Australian Red Cross volunteers – who would use the calico bags at their monthly stall in Queen Street
- Campbelltown City Lions Club – for the prizes won at their weekly Chocolate Wheel at Rosemeadow.

Mayor of Campbelltown, Cr Brenton Banfield, said it is important to spread the environmental message, especially to the younger generation. “Council is creating awareness on a very important issue affecting our entire community,” Cr Banfield said. “I want to thank all those who entered the competition for supporting our campaign. It is really encouraging to see so many organisations and groups doing great things for our environment and the community.” Even if you weren’t able to enter the competition, you can still play an integral role in helping the environment. Try to avoid plastic bags and use reusable bags. If you need to use plastic bags, reuse them as bin liners or take them to your local supermarket for recycling – don’t throw them in household recycling bins.

Retailers ignore target to cut plastic bags

By Melissa Fyfe
Environment Reporter

19th May, 2003
According to The Age, a confidential report has revealed that Australia's big retailers have ignored government targets to halve the use of plastic bags. The retail industry has detailed its plan to tackle plastic bag litter in a draft national code of practice. The code, leaked to The Age, makes no mention of halving the 6.9 billion bags used by shoppers each year - a target set by federal and state environment ministers in December. Ministers gave the industry two key goals last year: to reduce plastic bag use by 50 per cent and to increase recycling from 3 per cent of bags to 50 per cent. The ministers made it clear that if the industry failed, customers would face a bag levy.

Full report:

South Australia


SOUTH Australians lead the nation in their support for a ban on plastic bags, a Newspoll survey says.


Nine out of 10 people surveyed (91 per cent) said they were in favour of a ban on plastic bags to help reduce landfill, damage to marine life and greenhouse pollution. view more........

Strong support for plastic bag ban -
December 07, 2006 01:15am  

SOUTH Australians lead the nation in their support for a ban on plastic bags, a Newspoll survey says.

Nine out of 10 people surveyed (91 per cent) said they were in favour of a ban on plastic bags to help reduce landfill, damage to marine life and greenhouse pollution. The survey was commissioned as part of the 2007 Clean Up Australia campaign.

Counting down to the next clean up day, on March 4, chairman Ian Kiernan believed the community wanted to see environmental change year-round, not just on one day.

In South Australia, Clean Up Australia Day is co-ordinated by KESAB and executive director John Phillips is hopeful the ban on plastic shopping bags will become a reality.

"We've been talking about the potential of banning plastic shopping bags for about four years," he said.

"January, 2009 is the date that has been set for South Australia."

Legislation is being developed and there will be a consultation process.

Barossa Council’s anti-plastic initiative
Reporter: Ivy Bateman & Emma Pedler
Presenter: Roger Taylor
14th October, 2004

Are you guilty of harbouring plastic bags in your home?
Did you know that if each Australian family used one less plastic shopping bag each week, Australians would save 253 million plastic bags a year?

That's according to a 'plastic bag feature story' on ABC Online (see the link below)
After purchasing 7500 lime-green carry bags for their residents, the Barossa Council is leading the way in South Australia in their efforts to reduce the use of plastic bags.
Full report:

South East NSW

Mogo says no to plastic bags
Presenter: Tim Holt
Researcher: Katie Smith
Tuesday, 19th August, 2003

According to the ABC News, last year, shopkeeper Tony Neiberding used 15 thousand plastic bags in his convenience store at Mogo on the NSW South Coast but next year he'll use none, when the historic village becomes the first mainland town in Australia to ban plastic bags.
"I've never really liked plastic bags getting into the ocean and creating havoc with the wildlife," he told Tim Holt on ABC South East NSW, "It just seemed a good idea. It was something small we could do."

Tony Neiberding sent his bags back to the distributor eight weeks ago and he said the response from the customers has been overwhelming.

Full report:



By Jano Gibson
Updated Tue Aug 10, 2010 

The Northern Territory Government has announced more details about its plan to ban plastic bags.

In December, the Government indicated it intended to ban plastic bags as part of its climate change policy. Today, Environment Minister Karl Hampton outlined further details about the proposal, which would help reduce the 40 million plastic bags used in the Territory each year. Under the plan, single-use, light-weight, non-biodegradable plastic bags would be phased out over four months from the middle of 2011.

Shops would not be allowed to sell them or give them away. Mr Hampton says reusable green bags and biodegradable bags will be the main options available once the ban, which follows a similar model already in place in South Australia, takes effect. Small, clear, tear-off bags, which are often used for fruit and vegetables, will not be banned.

"Green bags can be re-used many times, generate a fraction of the greenhouse gases in production and rarely end up in our waterways and harbour as litter," Mr Hampton said.

"Biodegradable or compostable bags also significantly reduce environmental litter and the dangers to our delicate wildlife."



Plastic bag ban drive
DAMIEN BROWN   |   March 17, 2011

THE State Government has been accused of dragging its feet on legislation needed to ban plastic bags in Tasmania.

Late last year a tri-partisan political alliance seven years in the making agreed to ban non-biodegradable bags in Tasmania.

The move will make Tasmania just the second Australian state or territory to impose a ban, after South Australia, and follows the lead seven years ago of baker Ben Kearney, who had bags banished from Coles Bay.

Tasmania's proposed ban is expected to be stronger than that in South Australia. There, lightweight plastic bags from supermarkets are banned and the heavier plastic bags used by other retailers, such as Myer, are not. Under Tasmanian law not even those heavier bags will be allowed. With both the Greens and the Liberals taking a ban on plastic bags to the state election last March, Labor was forced to drop its opposition and agreed to ban non-biodegradable bags in line with the state-based push. 

The State Government, while supportive of the move, was waiting for a more national approach to the banning of the bags. Previously Labor rubbished a ban, claiming it would add $20 to an average grocery bill.

Then Environment Minister David O'Byrne said he expected the legislation would go before Cabinet before last Christmas. The legislation still has not appeared. Greens environment spokeswoman Cassy O'Connor yesterday put pressure on new Environment Minister Brian Wightman to provide a clear timeframe for the implementation of the ban. "The Environment Minister should clarify a timeline for the ban, including when the proposal for an implementation plan will be taken to Cabinet," Ms O'Connor said. Mr Wightman said the State Government remained committed to the legislation.






Say No To Plastic Bags
28th June, 2005

West Coast Mayor Darryl Gerrity is calling on residents and retailers to join the fight against plastic shopping bags by supporting Clean up Australia’s national ‘Say NO to Plastic Bags’ campaign.

"It's not hard or expensive to make a difference," said Mayor Gerrity "We owe it to our community, our wildlife and our environment to do something about the plastic bag epidemic today. We will all have to live with the damage we are causing."
Full report: