While the Byron Shire Council has yet to ban the bags, the Say No To Plastic Bag 2012 campaign has kicked off in earnest.
‘We are asking all Byron businesses to support the campaign and stop giving out free plastic bags,’ says one of the organisers, Trude Helm.
‘If a customer requests one, why not ask them to give a donation to the Say No To Plastic Bag campaign and Seabird Rescue? Just charging a pittance for a bag is all it takes to make people think and bring their own when they shop.
‘Aldi has made this their policy from day one and it surely hasn’t affected their sales!’
Ms Helm says the main target of the campaign is having Byron Bay Woolworths and IGA sign the pledge and make the region plastic bag free.
‘We have asked our major food retailers to support our campaign but they have declined.’
Ms Helm says the decision is puzzling. ‘Why? In every other situation where a small fee was attached to bag use, people stopped using them.’
She points to other parts of the country and overseas where it has worked.
‘A four-week trial in Victoria found that by charging people for plastic bags there was a 79 per cent reduction in the number of bags used and it raised $35,000 which was donated to environmental projects.
‘Bunnings reduced bag usage by 99 per cent by introducing a 10 cent charity charge on its bags, which then led them to eliminating bags all together. Ikea implemented a similar charity charge and now have no single-use bags.
She claims a uniform plastic bag levy is another option that can reduce bag usage.
‘In Ireland, a plastic bag levy resulted in a 90 per cent reduction in the use of plastic bags with an overwhelmingly positive response.
‘The funds from the levy are placed in an environmental fund controlled by the minister for the environment, heritage and local government, to be used to cover the costs of administration. It supports and promotes a variety of environmental programs. Revenues from the program are over 30 times the costs of collection.’
Ms Helm says the wallet is still the best route to stopping the plastic bag. ‘Come on Woolies and IGA – we know you can do it! We welcome your support for this important initiative. The time to change is now.’
For more visit www.banthebag.com.au.
Eriko and Sebastien love the idea of reducing single-use plastic bags. Photo Jeff ‘Three Bags Full’ Dawson