What's the issue?
Plastic bag bans
From 1 July all states except NSW have banned single-use lightweight
plastic bags. Major retailers Coles and Woolworths have implemented bans in
their stores nationwide, instead offering customers heavier plastic bags
for a fee.
Plastic shopping bags were patented by a Swedish company in 1965 and by the
late 1980s most supermarket chains had ditched paper bags in favour of them.
They've been a routine part of the grocery shop ever since but there's a
worldwide movement to ban single-use plastic bags.
More than 40 countries have either banned or partly banned single-use plastic bags, or tax or fine
individuals and companies for using them. Australia has no national
policy regarding their use, although all states except NSW have a ban in place or have
committed to introducing one.
The problem with biodegradable bags
Biodegradable or compostable plastic bags aren't a simple fix either. In
the Royal Society Open Science Journal, European scientists said not enough
is known about how they break down in rivers, oceans and lakes for us to
confidently use them as an alternative.
A West Australian Local Government Association study found that nine out of 10
households line waste bins with single-use plastic bags or bin liners. It
reported that after the single-use plastic bag ban in South Australia, the
sale of bin liners substantially increased.
The study found biodegradable plastic bin liners may be appropriate in some
situations but, "do not break down well in modern highly compacted
You can avoid using a bin liner by:
IMAGE: Biome Eco Stores – biome.com.au
- washing your bin out after emptying it
- composting food scraps
- wrapping food scraps in sheets of newspaper
- freezing non-compostable foods scraps until rubbish collection day
- lining bins with newspaper or paper towel.