News

Plastic bags "on the endangered list" as ban kicks in

G-Online

Policy

Turtle with plastic bag in mouth

Banning plastic bags will not only divert millions of them from landfill, but will also help keep them out of our oceans, where they can be responsible for the death of marine life.

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The South Australian Government's total ban on plastic bags starts today, while a nation-wide ban has been announced for stores of retail chain Target.

The government ban on conventional plastic checkout bags across South Australia was first announced last year, and today introduces on-the-spot fines for retailers distributing single-use palsticbags.

Meanwhile, action group Do Something - founded by G Magazine editorial advisory board member Jon Dee - is backing the decision of Target to ban the bag across the country.

Starting on 1 June 2009, Target stores will stop giving away plastic shopping bags, in the hopes of sending 100 million less plastic bags into landfill and the environment.

Together the Target and South Australian initiatives are expected to eliminate half a billion plastic bags - a significant proportion of the 4 billion plastic checkout bags used in Australia each year.

To coincide with these developments, Dee has launched a new campaign called 'Ban the Bag'. The campaign aims to lobby governments to adopt a nation ban on plastic bags, encourage retailers to voluntarily ban them and encourage the public to change their personal bag behaviours.

"Target's national ban and the statewide South Australian ban show that we have reached a tipping point where a national ban on plastic bags is now inevitable," Dee said. "Plastic bags are now moving on to the endangered species list."

"Such a [national] ban would benefit marine creatures such as seals, whales and turtles - many of whom die every year by ingesting plastic bags that are mistaken for food sources such as jellyfish," he said.

"Do Something has thrown its full support behind this landmark decision by Target. It is the latest in a groundswell of initiatives by retailers and others to move away from plastic bags. The supermarket chain ALDI does not give away free plastic checkout bags. Retailers such as Bunnings, Nando's and IKEA have banned plastic checkout bags. McDonald's only uses paper bags and for five years Tasmania's Coles Bay has banned plastic bags at the checkout.

"All of these positive retail initiatives have shown that Australia is finally ready to 'Ban the Bag'".