Legislation to ban single use plastic bags has been introduced into both houses of NSW Parliament.
Ballina Greens MP Tamara Smith and Greens Environment spokesperson Dr Mehreen Faruqi yesterday introduced the bills in an effort to reduce the impact of plastic bags on the environment, including the marine environment.
Ms Smith said it was time to take action against the ‘wasteful use of plastic bags’
‘Tens of thousands of marine animals die each year from ingesting plastic bags, which look like jellyfish and other food often consumed by dolphins, turtles, whales and other marine life,’ she said.
‘We need to get with the program as other Australian states and territories and countries took this action years ago.’
Dr Faruqi said the legislation was a Greens election promise.
‘About 50 million plastic bags end up in the Australian environment each year,’ she said.
‘This has undeniably devastating impacts on our wildlife and waterways.
‘South Australia, Tasmania, and both territories have already reformed their laws to ban retailers from supplying these lightweight bags.
‘This was a Greens election promise and it’s really exciting to see this bill go onto the parliamentary notice paper today.’
The Greens are not the only party pushing for a ban on plastic bags.
The Echonetdaily reported last week that Labor MP and Shadow Enviroment Minister Penny Sharpe was also pushing for a ban.
Ms Sharpe toured the Australian Seabird Rescue facilties in Ballina, where volunteers regularly deal with animals, especially sea turtles, which become sick after eating plastic.
Keith Williams of Australian Seabird Rescue in Ballina more than one third of sea turtles seen by the group had ingested plastic, and some bird species were also at risk.
In a study conducted by ASR, 88 per cent of the Short-tailed Sheatwaters (Mutton Birds) examined had plastic in their digestive tract.
Mr Williams said other shearwaters and petrels were also at risk.