- Protect our land and water from mining.
- Honesty and integrity in politics
- Local jobs
- People before profits
- Improved heath and education services.



Saturday, 21 February 2015

Greens move to ban plastic bags in NSW



The Greens have announced they will introduce legislation in the new parliament to ban single-use plastic bags in NSW.
Going shopping? Janet Cavanaugh with a
re-usable bag she purchased in Yamba

Greens candidate for the seat of Clarence, Janet Cavanaugh, today confirmed that the Greens intend to introduce legislation after the election for NSW to finally put a stop to the environmental catastrophe that is single-use plastic bags. 


According to Ms Cavanaugh, NSW is lagging behind several other states that have already adopted this measure to reduce the environmental damage caused by plastic


“South Australia, Tasmania, the Northern Territory and the ACT have successfully banned lightweight plastic bags,” she said. “There is no excuse for NSW to still allow them, and I call on the Labor and Liberal parties to support this ban.


Some individual communities already have bans in place or are working to reduce plastic bag use. 


“I applaud the Yamba community for their EcoBag and Borrow Me Bag initiatives, and the participating Yamba businesses,” she said. 


“Unfortunately the problem is too big for it to be solved one community at a time, particularly when a major supermarket has chosen not to join in. 


“An estimated 50 million plastic bags end up in the environment each year in Australia, mostly in our waterways and ocean, where they kill and injure dolphins, turtles and other marine life,” Ms Cavanaugh said.


The Greens’ legislation will introduce a plastic bag ban by the end of 2015 and be similar to other states’ laws, which ban lightweight shopping bags being given out or sold by retailers to customers to carry away goods. The ban will focus on plastic bags of less than 35 microns, which includes single-use, lightweight bags such as grocery bags with handles, and other bags used to carry away products such as take away food or alcohol.


“It is an issue I am personally committed to: I have been advocating a plastic bag ban for many years.


“As well as preventing the death of thousands of marine animals, a plastic bag ban would help reduce overall plastic consumption and our reliance on fossil fuels,” she said.


“When South Australia introduced their ban in 2009, people very quickly changed their behaviours and brought their own bags to the supermarket — something many people in Clarence already do,” said Ms Cavanaugh.


“There are plenty of alternatives to plastic bags available for businesses and consumers, so it is time to get on with a ban. Some national retailers, such as Aldi and Bunnings, already operate effectively without plastic bags. There is no reason other supermarkets and shops couldn't adopt similar practices throughout the state,” Ms Cavanaugh said.


Janet Cavanaugh wrote an opinion piece on banning free plastic bags that was published in the Daily Examiner in early 2009.


ENDS 

BACKGROUND: INTRODUCING A BAN ON PLASTIC SHOPPING BAGS


A number of jurisdictions have already banned plastic shopping bags, including South Australia in 2009, the ACT and NT in 2011 and Tasmania in 2013.
The Greens’ bill to ban plastic shopping bags in New South Wales will:
  • minimise the number of plastic bags entering waterways and the marine environment, and reduce harm to marine animals
  • reduce consumption of plastic products
  • encourage more sustainable packaging solutions using reusable and biodegradable alternatives to plastic
  • support the community’s aspiration for improving environmental sustainability.
  • reduce the visual impacts of plastic bag litter.

What bags would be affected?

Plastic bags of less than 35 microns thickness would be banned. This includes lightweight single use plastic bags such as grocery bags with handles and other lightweight bags used to carry away products from retailers, such as take away food or alcohol.

The following bags would not be included in the ban:
  • Barrier bags – the type dispensed from a roll to hold items such as loose fruit and vegetables
  • Heavier style retail bags – the type usually used by clothing and department stores
  • Sturdy bags designed for multiple use such as ‘green’ bags
  • Biodegradable compostable bags that meet the Australian Standard 4736-2006
  • Paper bags
  • Bin liners for purchase
  • Zip lock storage bags
  • Plastic bags that are an integral part of the packaging (such as bread, frozen foods, ice bags or bait bags).
  • Re-usable plastic bags
Some communities in NSW (e.g. Lord Howe Island, Kangaroo Valley, Huskisson on Jervis Bay, Manly and Yamba) have taken steps independently to reduce plastic bag use, either at a council level, or with the cooperation of local retailers and customers.

State-based regulation can help to accelerate this change, reduce consumption of plastic and reduce the entry of plastic bags into the environment.

Environmentally devastating

Plastic pollution is a major waste problem in NSW, contributing to landfill and polluting the state’s waterways, coastlines and oceans.
  • Australians use more than 4 billion plastic grocery-style bags each year.
  • An estimated 50 million of these bags enter the environment, blown from bins or landfill, and often ending up in waterways and the ocean.
  • It is estimated each bag is used just 12 minutes on average.
  • A plastic bag can take up to 1,000 years to break down.
  • Plastic bag litter kills tens of thousands of birds, whales, dolphins, seals and turtles every year.
  • These bags are made from fossil fuels, a non-renewable resource that requires environmentally damaging mining and drilling to access.

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