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January 18, 2022

Ballina Greens MP pushes for a ban on plastic bags

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The Byron Mermaids calling for an end to plastic bags in the shire. (supplied)
The Byron Mermaids calling for an end to plastic bags in the shire. (supplied)

Ballina Greens MP Tamara Smith is on a mission to ban single use plastic bags in an effort to stop them killing marine life such as turtles, dolphins, whales and seals.

In doing so, she is reflecting a wider trend across the northern rivers, where local business such as Mullumbimby’s IGA and Santos foods in Byron Bay have either banned, or are offering discounts to people choosing other alternatives.

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)

Ms Smith yesterday delivered the Second Reading speech for the Plastic Bags Prohibition Bill, which delivers on the Greens commitment during the election to introduce a bill to ban single-use light-weight plastic shopping bags in NSW by the end of 2017.

‘It is estimated that over 4 billion plastic bags are used in Australia each year.

‘The lightweight plastic shopping bags provided by retail outlets are often referred to as ‘single-use’ because once supplied, they are typically not taken back to a retail store by the consumer for re-filling. They are a one-off convenience but they are many lifetimes of impact on our environment.

‘Convenience is no longer an acceptable excuse for littering our landscapes and polluting our oceans and killing or maiming the animals that live in them.

‘When the average plastic bag is used for only five minutes but can take up to 1,000 years to break down in the environment we have clearly got our priorities as a species out of whack.

‘We have all been guilty I am sure in the past of having a drawer full of empty plastic shopping bags at home. It only takes four grocery trips for an average Australian family to accumulate 60 plastic shopping bags. Those days have got to stop.’

”Community organisations in my electorate such as Save the Mermaids, Plastic Free Byron, Mullum Cares and the Brunswick and Byron Boomerang Bags sewing groups are helping change the mindset of shoppers, and to get them to bring their own reusable bags.

‘Businesses are also getting behind the cause with Santos health foods in Byron Bay offering discounts on all bulk items for anyone signing up for the Plastic Free July pledge and the Mullumbimby IGA banning plastic bags voluntarily to overwhelming customer support,” said Ms Smith.

The Mullumbimby IGA has banned plastic bags. This photo shows Liam Bruce sporting a reusable carry bag from IGA. Photo Jeff Dawson
The Mullumbimby IGA has banned plastic bags. This photo shows Liam Bruce sporting a reusable carry bag from IGA. Photo Jeff Dawson

‘It’s time that we here in New South Wales took responsibility for the rubbish we contribute to landfills and waterways. It’s past time that we joined the many other cities, states and countries in banning single use plastic bags.’

Ms Smith will finish her speech to parliament next Tuesday, after which the legislation will be voted on.

 


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