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What will we do without plastic bags?

What will we do without plastic bags?

Many will welcome the government’s mid-year ban on single-use plastic bags, but how do we transition? And what do we transition to?

What will we do without plastic bags?

As of 1 July 2018, the WA Government will ban the use of lightweight single-use plastic bags.

Which is great. But what are we going to do without them?

Don’t get me wrong, I won’t miss them. For many of us, taking reusable bags to the shops is second nature. But many others Aussies are reliant on them—why else would they have stuck around so long?

Western Australians used approximately 360 million lightweight plastic bags in 2017. That’s 140 bags per person per year, each of them used for a measly average of 12 minutes.

An estimated 5 million bags end up as litter in WA each year.

SACK THE BAG

The plastic bag is one of the most palpable symptoms of mankind’s impact on the planet.

Whereas climate change’s insidiousness makes it invisible to some, it is difficult to miss the bags swilling around in our oceans, being pulled out of dead marine organisms and clogging up our landfills.

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Aussies dump 7,150 recyclable plastic bags into landfills every minute. They can take up to 1000 years to decompose

Professor Andrew Holmes from the University of Melbourne said, “The plastic waste in the oceans is disastrous for marine and birdlife,” when he spoke to the ABC. 90% of all seabirds have ingested plastic, which blocks up their digestive system, breaks open their guts and leaches chemicals into their blood.

It’s not that we’re not aware of the problem. In a survey, 95% of West Aussie respondents were concerned about the impacts of plastics on waterways, oceans, wildlife and landfill sites. Now, the government is asking us to voice these concerns—as well as any questions or suggestions we may have.

HAVE YOUR SAY ON THE WAY FORWARD

Do you have ideas on how we can help consumers and retailers implement the new policy? The government and the Boomerang Alliance would love to hear from you. What resources do you want made available? Do you want support or training kits? Want to know how the government will handle adverse knock-on effects?

The discussion paper on the implementation of the ban is available for public comment until 9 March. The government is inviting public submissions via an online survey or written submissions.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson says,

“The discussion paper gives the community an opportunity to be part of efforts to reduce the impact of plastic bags on our environment.”

The policy change comes after extensive and intensive pressure from our communities and is proof that we can shape the way our world works. But the work to save our planet is not done yet, so if you have an opinion or idea, make sure it gets heard.

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