Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Melbourne Times Article 1/2/11 'Ban the bag to save the creek'

Minister says ban the bag to save the creek

01 Feb, 2011 04:00 AM
Genevieve Gannon
Melbourne Times Weekly
RECENT heavy rains washing rubbish into Merri Creek have prompted Wills MHR Kelvin Thomson to renew his call for plastic bags to be banned from supermarkets.
The former Federal Environment Minister has written to current Environment Minister Tony Burke to say the phase-out of plastic bags is necessary to protect waterways and coast lines.
‘‘It is absolutely critical that we work together to remove non-compostable plastic bags as soon as possible,’’ he wrote.
Melbourne Water spokesman Nicholas McGay said native animals and fish can become entangled in plastic bags, causing injury or death.
‘‘Street litter is a threat to the health of Melbourne’s rivers and creeks and the animals that live off them,’’ he said. ‘‘When it rains, any rubbish is washed off streets and carried by the stormwater system into the nearest waterway.’’
Mr Thompson’s call was backed by the Friends of Merri Creek.
FoMC Member Ray Radford said the issue of who was responsible for rubbish in the water was something that ‘‘fell through the cracks’’ and the only way to significantly reduce litter in the waterways was to ban plastic bags.
He said he doesn’t think there was a lot anyone could do once the rubbish reaches the water, he would like to see the issue tackled at its source.
‘‘It just comes from the streets, that’s something people might not realise, they might think it goes into a sewage system.’’


  1. I have noticed that some retailers are now providing bio-degradable plastic bags which is great. I feel it makes sense for all retailers collecting the 10 cent plastic bag levy to provide bio-degradable plastic bags as standard.
    Is there any room in the legislation for this to occur?

  2. Thank you for your comment Stuart.

    In recent years, environment ministers have worked together with Standards Australia to develop two standards for biodegradable plastic. Biodegradable plastics decompose easily, unlike normal plastics which can take a long time to break down. The new standards give consumers and businesses confidence that biodegradable plastics will perform as claimed.

    South Australia uses the standard for plastics that are designed to break down in commercial compost facilities to support its ban on non-biodegradable bags and the Australian Capital Territory will use a similar approach when its ban comes into force in November 2011. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission also used this standard in a recent Federal Court case against a manufacturer that made a false claim that its plastic bags were biodegradable.

    I hope this information is of assistance.

  3. I am not sure bio-degradable is any better see this study:

    I think that since plastic is used as a cheap alternative for producers and therefore increases individual profits why should the public sector pay for it's disposal and environmental impact? Producers using plastics in packaging should incur a steep environmental and disposal tax. The Merri and Edgars creeks are awash with plastic bottles which are as problematic as bags. The producers, importers and sellers of these products should be highly taxed and they will seek alternatives.

  4. I think the argument for banning plastic bags is compelling. When one considers the energy and oil required to produce plastic bags (whether degradable or not), through to their fouling the environment, their danger to children and wildlife, they (plastic bags) should go.