Greens introduce legislation to ban plastic bags

Legislation to ban plastic bags has been introduced into NSW Parliament. (file pic)

Legislation to ban plastic bags has been introduced into NSW Parliament. (file pic)

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’

Tamara Smith. Photo Tree Faerie.

Tamara Smith. Photo Tree Faerie.

‘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.

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5 responses to “Greens introduce legislation to ban plastic bags”

  1. Rob of Hobart says:

    This proposed legislation has good intentions but it just hasn’t worked in Tasmania. The big duopoly supermarkets have replaced the light weight bags with super thick plastic bags and they get around the legislation by stating they can be reused. They are also making an absolute fortune out of it charging $1.00 per bag and people buy them repeatedly, they all end up in land fill or the waterways and do not degrade. They remain with us for decades and decades. The legislation must state that all bags are bio degradable.

  2. Jon says:

    This is a ridiculous feel-good initiative. All it will do is inconvenience shoppers and force supermarkets and shops to substitute tougher plastic bags at a cost to the consumer. Let’s face it, the entire plastics industry is not going to be shut down, substitutes will always be available.
    For one of the advocates to suggest, as he did on TV tonight, that a Northern Territory crocodile with 20 plastic bags in its stomach is any kind of rationale for inconveniencing people doing their daily shop is absurd.
    I hope the Baird govt. doesn’t give in to this highly unpopular move.

  3. Cassandra says:

    Well first of all, they’re not single use. Like me, I’m sure most people have a collection of plastic bags at home which they reuse for lining small bins, taking wet togs home from the pool – the list is endless. If we can no longer get free bags from the shops for all these needs, we will have to start buying plastic bags. So will the use of plastic bags actually decrease? I don’t think so. Also, why are free bags at the checkout evil but all the bags you can buy in the aisle are ok? If plastic bags are bad for the environment, then shouldn’t they be banning ALL plastic bags? The bags you have to buy to line your garbage bins ARE actually single use, yet they aren’t being targeted. This policy just doesn’t make sense to me.

  4. James Nol says:

    Proposed legislation should be amended to:
    Plastic bag manufacturing should be changed that bags should be biodegradable and perish if 7 days in water.

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