Environment group wants plastic ban to go further

PIC: Supplied

The Peel Harvey Catchment Council has welcomed the upcoming ban on single use plastic bags, but is urging Western Australians to push even more for the reduction in plastic use.

Earlier this month supermarket giants Woolworths and Coles began to phase out single use plastic bags at various locations around the country, including the Singleton Woolworths store.

The Peel Harvey Catchment Council welcomed the end of single use light-weight plastic shopping bags, which will be introduced across the state on July 1, but the group wants to see a ban on bags less than 70 microns thick. 

A micron is one-millionth of a metre, and bags less than 35 microns are what we currently see at most checkouts.

The 1 July ban to be implemented by state government will make it illegal for shops to provide plastic bags which are less than 35 microns.  

The PHCC wants the ban to extend to all plastic shopping bags that are less than 70 microns thick so that retailers and shoppers are strongly discouraged from shifting from thin plastic to glossy thick plastic bags that may still be available after 1 July under the government’s current plans.

PHCC Chairperson Andy Gulliver said the group want to see a complete shift away from single use bags in the long term.

"Government and community leaders need to support and encourage the use of re-useable shopping bags that can be used over and over again," he said.

"This is a simple action that each and every one of us can do to look after the environment, every day.

"At present, plastic shopping bags and other plastic products are littering our beautiful environment and don’t degrade any time soon, especially in a landfill... And when plastics get into the Estuary and marine environment, they can injure and kill wildlife, and get incorporated into the food chain."

The group said residents were becoming frustrated with the amount of plastic littler ending up on foreshores, beaches, roadside and in bushland.

During a recent rubbish pickup event volunteers collected 127 plastic packaging items in a 2km stretch of the Coodanup foreshore, of which 60 per cent were plastic bags. 

Mandurah-based Youth on Leadership group has also joined the fight against single use plastic and started a campaign to raise community awareness on the impacts of single use plastics on the local environment and what can be done to reduce reliance on single use plastics.

"It’s fantastic to see the Youth in Leadership Group’s Heal Peel campaign being developed," Mr Gulliver said.

"Young people are showing us adults the way with their marketing campaign.

"We hope that the State Government puts as much effort and enthusiasm into a state-wide awareness-raising campaign, with a much bigger budget of course."

Mr Gulliver said he was concerned that a ban on 35 micron bags doesn't reduce the amount of plastic litter, and pointed to South Australia and the Northern Territory as examples of that.

"That’s why the government needs to get to a 70 micron bag ban, and follow it up with a strong public awareness campaign," he said.

"The key messages are: bring your re-useable bags to the shops, store them in the car when not in use, and don’t litter our beautiful state."


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