Single use plastic bags continue to be used in massive volumes across NSW, VIC, QLD and WA.
According to Clean Up Australia “Australians use 3.92 billion plastic bags a year, that's over 10 million new bags being used every day. An estimated 3.76 billion bags or 20,700 tonnes of plastic are disposed of in landfill sites throughout Australia every year.” So how does Australia do relative to the rest of the world in banning plastic bags? Well in a nutshell not well. Although the NT, TAS, SA and ACT have banned single use bags the biggest states talk a good game but will just not act on this issue. Even developing countries like Uganda or Tanzania have already banned the use of plastic bags and they have bigger challenges than Australia around waste management. Single use plastic bags are a blight on the environment, it is estimated that about 150 million end up as litter.
A Government Steering Group has been established at the state level but little else beyond bureaucracy appears to be progressing. Clean Up Australia has been campaigning on this issue since 2003 and Ms Johnson of Clean Up articulates how most people feel about the complete lack of action on this issue “I'm well and truly over it. We just feel this is such low hanging fruit for the government, we don't see why we can't just enact an eastern seaboard solution now."
Both Coles and Woolworths would be effected by the ban the most but they don’t appear to be the issue as both have publicly expressed their support for any decisions made by state and federal Governments on this issue. The challenge lies at the inertia of the Government at both State and Federal level and that responsibility ultimately lies with us.
There are many groups active in the area including Clean Up Australia, The Boomerang Alliance, multiple facebook pages campaign such as ‘Plastic Bag Free NSW’ or ‘Bye Bye Plastic Bags Australia’ and other interest groups have joined the campaign for a nationwide ban such as ‘Trolley Bags Australia’ https://www.facebook.com/trolleybags.aus that offers a reliable alternative to the single use plastic bags for grocery shopping. Let’s all continue to campaign and actively promote for action by the Government for a national ban on single use plastic bags. If Uganda can do it, then so can we