Plastic bag ban survey – VIC

Have your say on banning lightweight plastic shopping bags and future approaches to manage plastic pollution in Victoria. Consultation is open until the 25 January 2018.

After much campaigning by various community groups, Victoria at last joined other states in Australia in committing to some action on plastic bag waste.

Not quite in the (plastic) bag!

A plastic bag ban was announced in October, but no details were given. Instead, the government has issued a plastic impacts discussion paper for public consultation. The Plastic-free Victoria Alliance (of which we are part) has been encouraging people to make submissions by filling out the survey. They have prepared a template (below) with dot points for each of the 10 questions posed by the paper.

It’s been reported that of the 1,000 submissions received so far, most were AGAINST a plastic bag ban – many citing concerns for bin liner and dog pooh bag alternatives. So it’s important that everyone who can does fill out the survey, and pass it on through your networks.

Please note the template below is to be used as a guide, not to copy/paste, as to increase weight. This is the end game for bags in Victoria – let’s do it properly!

Also here’s some great links to resources that may help you be informed:

 

[See Plastic-free Victoria Alliance original post here]


 

Plasticfree Victoria Alliance’s template to the discussion paper “Reducing Plastic Pollution”

Link: https://engage.vic.gov.au/waste/plastic-pollution

PLEASE DO NOT COPY/PASTE – USE THE POINTS GIVEN AS LAUNCH PADS, MAKE IT

YOURS, LET YOUR VOICE SHINE, IT WILL CARRY MORE WEIGHT ?

    1. Do you support a ban on single-use lightweight plastic shopping bags?

Yes, because:

  • Made from fossil fuel
  • Given out in excessive amounts
  • Used only once or twice
  • Hardly any are recycled
  • Blowing out of landfill and bins
  • Being littered
  • Cause entanglements and issues with ingestion by birds, turtles and other animals
  • Break up into smaller pieces & enter the food chain (accumulating toxicants along the way)
  • Toxicants magnify up the food chain, health issues for their hosts, including humans
  • Cause damage to infrastructure by blocking up drains, resulting in large costs to local and state government and community groups

 

  1. Should a ban include thick plastic shopping bags?

Yes, because:

  • Carry exact same issues as thinner bags (wasteful, only few get recycled, litter, toxic, damaging to infrastructure and harmful to animals)
  • May be used more often, due to them being stronger/thicker, but in the marine environment, they cause entanglements and broken up pieces are being ingested, just as the thinner bags
  • 15 cent levy will not deter increased use of heavier bags once lightweight bags are banned
  • Banning heavier bags now avoids confusion and differing retailer approaches later
  • It is the most cost-effective option for bag bans (see your paper, Table 4)
  • If no ban on thicker bags, suggest a levy (at least 50 cents, increased each year) and all money goes to EPA
  • Follow QLD’s lead and include the option to increase bag thickness if retailers seek to provide slightly thicker bags to prevent confusion and ineffective legislation, such as in Tasmania (all sorts of bags are still given out for free)

 

  1. Should a ban include plastic bags that break down over time such as biodegradable, degradable or compostable bags?

Yes, because:

  • Do not dissolve in water and are just as bad as other plastic bags in the marine environment
  • Degrade into smaller pieces sooner, making them resemble food for wildlife even more than standard bags
  • Biodegradable’ plastics contain toxic agents that make them very slow to decompose, if at all, in the marine environment
  • Compostable bags differ in the type of composting facility they require (most cannot be composted at home)
  • Degradable and compostable bags entering the soft-plastic recycling cause issues with their product
  • It is the most cost-effective option for bag bans (see your paper, Table 4)
  • Bioplastics may be a solution in the future, but until we have a certified standard for a product that is home-compostable (low temperatures) and dissolves in water, all biodegradable, degradable and compostable bags should be banned

 

  1. If lightweight plastic bags were banned, we will need to consider exemptions for some purposes, like medical or security activities. Are there any types of businesses, organisations or activities that you think should be exempt from a plastic bag ban?

Yes, exemptions can be given to health, medical, policing and security applications.

 

  1. If lightweight plastic shopping bags were banned, what alternative bags would you prefer to use?

Fabric bags (from recycled fabric, e.g. Boomerang Bags), Green bags (made from recycled plastic), Paper bags (made from >40% recycled paper)

 

  1. What other options should the government consider to reduce plastic packaging in Victoria?
  • A container deposit scheme
  • Ban plastic barrier bags for vegetables and replace with paper / encourage re-useable light-fabric produce bags
  • Ban polystyrene produce trays and replace with cardboard or re-useable PET trays
  • Plastic film: move away from film on vegetables and fruit
  • Invest in R&D to find an alternative to plastic film
  • Leave the plastic packaging at the store will encourage producers to rethink (unwrapping at point of sale, packaging to be re-used)
  • Get consumer groups onto Australian packaging covenant
  • Facilitate community – industry advocacy.

 

  1. What else should the Victorian Government do to reduce the impacts of litter at a local level and across our state?
  • Ban smoking within 100 metres of all beaches, playgrounds and waterways
  • A ban on balloon releases in all public spaces
  • Increased penalties for littering
  • Increased funding to the EPA to enforce litter laws
  • Ban or levy on plastic straws
  • Heavy penalty and enforcement of butt littering
  • 1 cent refund scheme on cigarette butts
  • Tax on plastic single-use food containers will encourage food outlets to move away from plastic to cardboard
  • Grants to groups that engage businesses to reduce use of single-use plastic items (The Last Straw, Responsible Café’s, Boomerang Bags and many more)

 

  1. How can Victorians be encouraged to further reduce the impacts of litter in their communities?
  • Education campaign about the global crisis of plastic pollution, the cost of our convenience to our environment, economy and health
  • A container deposit scheme will encourage removal of container litter and is likely to have a knock-on effect on improved recycling behaviours
  • Funding for waste officers, ongoing funding for resource-smart schools
  • Advocate the federal government to ban microbead

 

  1. What other plastic pollution issues should government, business and communities work together to address?
  • Work toward a ban on polystyrene (ban where not needed and support R&D on alternative)
  • Ban fishing bait bags and replace with re-sealable PET containers with ‘bring it back’ refund scheme.
  • Microfibres from clothing: Install filters in washing machines, invest in R&D to contain microfibres
  • Advocate the federal government to mandate import tariff on non-environmentally friendly products and packaging. Funds to go into plastic pollution R&D.

 

  1. What strategies to address plastic pollution do you think would be most effective?
  • Mandatory school visits to waste handling/recycling facilities
  • Include plastic pollution into school curriculum
  • Initiatives that encourage product responsibilities
  • Need for a circular economy (product is designed with reusing or recycling in mind)
  • Engage Industries to move away from single-use items toward re-useable products
  • Demand new products to contain a percentage of recycled material to boost recycling industry