By Luis Feliu
Tweed Shire Council is throwing its weight behind the states’ push to ban single-use plastic bags.
The council last night voted unanimously to write to the NSW premier and environment minister lobbying for support toward an education campaign to encourage residents to make the necessary behavioural change to use reusable bags and or biodegradable bags as an alternative.
State environment ministers from other states and territories meet next week to decide whether to ban single-use plastic lightweight bags.
Four of the seven states and territories have already banned them with only NSW, Victoria and Western Australia still to do so.
Supermarket chains Coles and Woolworths set a huge example recently recently when they announced plans to phase the bags over the next 12 months. Aldi has already implemented a ban.
The decision by the two big food retailers is expected to affect stores in those states where no ban is in place.
Tweed council’s director of natural resources Tracey Stinson said in her report to councillors that if the state environment ministers decided to ban the bags, council would launch an education campaign to encourage residents to use alternatives, such as reusable or biodegradable bags, which impact less on the environment.
Ms Stinson said council has identified the potential removal of single use plastic bags as a key initiative to be focused on in the next six months and supported lobbying NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian and environment minister Gabrielle Upton to support the phased removal of single use plastic bags.
‘Following the recent ABC Program “War on Waste”, a much higher focus has been placed on the use of single use plastic bags at shopping centres as being a significant environmental issue with millions of bags making their way into either landfills or the environment every year,’ Ms Stinson said.
‘These bags are directly responsible for the death of millions of sea animals every year around the world and for a significant portion of marine and land pollution.
‘An evaluation of residual waste across other regions that have implemented organics services indicates that single use plastic bags make up to 18.5 per cent of the residual waste which is disposed of into landfill, although no definitive audit has been undertaken on Tweed’s residual waste stream.’
Ms Stinson said council’s Integrated Waste Strategy has identified that the pursuit of waste diversion opportunities is a key objective once the collection and procession of food and garden organics from household has been introduced.
‘This has now been implemented and the opportunity to avoid the generation of waste should be pursued as a priority over processing and diversion as the avoidance of the generation of waste is preferable to diversion because this saves valuable resources,’ she said.