In a move trailing other states, the Victorian Government last week introduced a bill that would ban single use bags from a wide range of retail outlets including convenience stores, service stations and boutique fashion stores.
Its estimated that a billion single use plastic bags are used each year in Victoria, with roughly 10 million ending up in Victorian waterways, parks and marine environments.
Aside from being visually unattractive, the bags pose a significant threat to local wildlife - particularly when reaching the ocean. “We know this isn’t good enough”, Environment Minister Lily D’ambrosio commented.
However under the proposal bags used for fruit, vegetables and meat will be exempt, as well as thicker garbage bags. An education campaign will be run in conjunction with the ban to help consumers better understand laws and the alternatives available to them.
Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien remains skeptical, and wants to see a cost-benefit analysis of the proposed legislation. “It’s fine to say get rid of plastic, but what are you going to replace it with? People need to have ready alternatives,” he said last week.
Others echo his sentiment. Research by University of Sydney economics lecturer Dr Rebecca Taylor highlights that blanket bans on single use plastic bags can have a wide range of unexpected consequences.
For one, it’s been discovered that many people have regularly been using single use bags as bin liners. In an analysis of the state of California, the ban on single use plastics resulted in a sharp increase in yearly sales of garbage bags. These bags are thicker, less degradable and often have more chemicals involved in their production, especially scented options.
But there’s no denying that the banning of single use plastic bags are a step in the right direction. Woolworths has recently announced that they’ve been able to divert roughly 5000 tonnes of plastic from entering the Australian waste stream, a truly impressive feat. By keeping people aware of the issue of single use items, we can continue to move towards cleaner, sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions.
For those looking for alternatives to single use bags, look no further than the classic paper bag. Amazingly strong, flat packed and available in a variety of sizes, SOS bags provide a versatile, sustainable alternative to single use plastics. Browse our range here!