Victoria Bans The Plastic Bag

Image: iStock

Last night on The Project, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced that his state will be the second last in the country to ban lightweight, single-use plastic bags.

The Project and Clean Up Australia have been running a campaign to #BanTheBag, calling for the calling for the New South Wales, Victorian and Western Australian governments to ban single-use non-biodegradable plastic bags.

Part of the campaign includes a Change.org petition, making this one of the few times such a petition has worked.

If you're wondering why NSW, Victoria and WA, it's because South Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory and the ACT already have bans in place for these bags. Even Queensland had already announced plans to ban the bag before the campaign started.

The campaigns first major success came last month with WA Premier Mark McGowan announcing that his government would ban the bag.

In July, both Coles and Woolworths announced plans to phase out single-use plastic bags. Instead offering heftier, reusable bags for a small cost.

Now that the Andrews government has joined the cause, the only state left in the country without plans to ban the bag is New South Wales. Unsurprisingly, there was some gentle chiding from Andrews about that.

Now it's time to see if Gladys Berejiklian will bring NSW along with the rest of the country.

It may seem like an inconvenience to take a reusable bag but the environmental costs of single-use bags are monumental. Australia dispose of approximately four billion plastic bags every year. That's 20,700 of plastic of which only 3% is recycled.

The bags that don't make it to landfill cost somewhere in the region of $4 million for communities and businesses to clean up.

So listen to Tim Minchin and take your canvas bags to the supermarket.

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Comments

    How does this work for grocery deliveries?

    Also I literally have the biggest drawer in my kitchen full of reusable bags (and that's after I just threw some out) because *every* time I go to shops I forget to bring them.

    I hate using the plastic bags, and I choose no bag whenever I can carry whatever I'm buying (especially things like a Subway lunch), and I fully support the ban.

    I also need a practical replacement/solution for me because everything I've tried so far hasn't worked.

      For delivered groceries they can easily put them in cardboard boxes. You can recycle them.

        Will they though? I was wondering what they will actually do. I can't find any info, except a couple of reports from people in SA (who have already banned plastic bags) saying that groceries are still delivered in bags, but the biodegradable kind (I don't know if those are actually recyclable?).

        That sounds great & all, but the way online was designed, at least for the supermarket I work for, it wouldn't work for our online dept. The only way it could work is if they're going to supply us with cardboard boxes that are water resistant (so a wax or plastic treated cardboard, not the best for breaking down & most likely not recyclable) it will not work, mostly because of the way the online shopping crates stack things cannot poke out within the top 10-20mm of the crate, which stops them from being stackable.

        Also 99% of the boxes that stock comes in, for the supermarkets get destroyed when the nightfill staff open them, or they're just not the right sort of box that would be shit for the job. There's also the fact they would be pretty shit when it comes to the cold & frozen items as you'll generate a lot of condensation during either of those trips which could possibly ruin the integrity of the box itself.

        The best they'd be able to do is to move to a biodegradable bag that will break down in landfill over a 12 month period, like the biodegradable bin liners do, or a bag that is made from organic material that could be chucked in your green waste* or compost bin that breaks down in a matter of weeks.

        *Only if your local council takes food scraps in the green waste, though.

        We used to get them in paper bags but the greenies decided that was bad for the trees.

        Then we got long lasting plastic bags but the greenies said they lasted too long.

        Then we got photo-degradeable bags which fell apart more easily - but yeah, greenies again.

        Now we're getting no bags. Oh except those hefty 're-usable' ones that use something like 100 times the materials of a plastic bag, that really do *not* decompose anywhere near as well as anything that came before.. and that we're told we need to use for something like a decade to pay off their material costs. (which are now clogging dump sites )

        Meanwhile we're back to buying plastic rubbish bags rather than re-use old shopping bags for that purpose. Me, I'll be buying disposable plastic bags from China in bulk for next to nothing and leaving a pack in the car - beats the poor sods stumbling out of Aldi juggling an armload of bacon and twisties because they forgot to bring a bag and the sodding shops are more prepared to accept greenie BS than offer decent service to their customers.

      For delivered groceries they can easily put them in cardboard boxes. You can recycle them.

      Top tip: try the super-strong parachute silk bags that scrunch up into a tiny bag when not in use. Then they just live in your handbag/work bag/cycle bag, jacket pocket, glove box etc and you don't need to remember them. There are many available but I got mine here: http://www.ticketothemoon.com/products. I like the market bag because it has a shoulder strap so I can use it when I'm cycling. It's stronger, holds more and is more comfortable to carry than a plastic bag.

        I could put a silk bag in my work bag that would help in a few situations, thanks!

        Outside of work I don't carry a bag and I'm not going to carry shopping bags in my pocket.

        And when I take a car I've already got 2 canvas shopping bags in the boot, the problem is that I forget to take them into the shop, and once I'm at the checkout and realise it's too late. I'm not sure a silk bag would help in that case, although I could possibly move it to the glove box.

        Maybe if I made parachute silk underpants with zippers to close off the legs & make a bag, that way will always have them with me.

          There's no real shortcut to remembering to take the bags. I've been living in Canberra for a few years now and it took me a long time to stop paying the 15c for a bag. Eventually I started chucking them on the passenger seat so that I could see the damned things and remember them.

          Now that I do remember them, there's a substantial stash sitting in the rear footwell of my car. Handy for board game nights too.

    $4 million cleanup costs nationally are small change.

    The economic impact of reduced shopping will be much bigger.

    Why stop at plastic bags though ? Why not ban cars or TVs since the environmental impact is far worse.

    Everything has an environmental impact.

      Cars and TVs don't end up in the stomach of turtles which eventually kills them due to starvation.

      Last edited 18/10/17 12:34 pm

        No cars only kill and injure a few thousand people, plus roadside wildlife.

        What percentage of plastic bags end up in the stomach of turtles ?

        Except ninja turtles, they only eat pizza that come in cardboard boxes.

      The economic impact of reduced shopping will be much bigger.
      Are people going to stop buying groceries if they can't get them in a plastic bag?

      I don't understand your logic.

      Everything has an environmental impact.

      And everything you do to reduce that impact makes a difference. On it's own it may not mean much, but the cumulative effect adds up over time.

      Everything has an environmental impact. Nothing we can do it’s humans vs nature. There are certain humans needs that go against nature, no way around it. Instead what we should is try an minimise the impacts. Each bit counts. To say to ban cars, TV or whatever is not a solution. For example cars, everyone has different lifestyles and have things to do where public transport is not ideal. It’s fine if all you do is work and the go home every night, you don’t have any hobbies outside of your home then you don’t need a car.
      But for some of us with lives outside of work and home.

      exactly that! you will eat less if you have no plastic bag to carry your food!

        You'll get more exercise too trying to balance all those groceries, so we'll also become a healthier nation right?

      Reduced shopping? People just pay the 15c for a reusable thicker plastic bag and then either throw them out or add them to the pile.

    Great now I have to fork out for single use plastic bags to use for garbage AND crappy “reuseable” bags which are completely impractical for every day shopping.

      Was thinking similar. I reuse as many of the shopping bags as I can, generally for garbage. That garbage isn't going to stop, so now it means I have to buy more garbage bags. Which are still made of plastic, and still going to end up in landfill.

      I walk to and from work, and do my shopping on the way home, so this becomes an issue for me there as well. I'll forget to grab bags in the morning, or afternoon, and in the end build up an oversupply of bags that just go to waste.

      I'm all for reducing plastic bags, but its not a solution for everyone. Perhaps simply limiting them to 1 or 2 would be a more practical start, at least until people get used to carrying recyclables around.

      *edit* stupid typos

      Last edited 18/10/17 3:48 pm

        Oh boy would I LOVE to work in the retail bag police telling screaming middle aged short haired women called Karen who want to speak to the manager they can’t have a third bag.

          Hehe. Karen probably has two screaming kids with her that are probably the staffs problem as well :) Maybe the bag cops can wrangle them as well with a mini banana, or whatever Jamie Oliver is spruiking this week...

          Just saying that flat out removing these bags creates other issues. Karen is going to be just as pissed that she has to buy another dozen reusables simply because she left the stack in the linen cupboard.

          That same manager will need to calm her down when she whinges its the third time this month that the supermarket has forced her to spend another $12 on bags she doesn't need. And are profiteering on peoples forgetfulness. Screw it, she's going to Aldi's next time...

          Poor Karen isn't having a good month...

          Limiting it to a couple of bags as a soft policy, then a hard one, gives people time to get used to dragging bags around all the time, or time to put some other solution in. Like the old practice of putting all the boxes in a cage that people can use.

            We've had this in Canberra for years. None of your dramas exist. What does happen is people steal them. It's a bag, it's the same bag you bring back from home, and you're probably going through self serve.

      How are they impractical. Just remember to bring them. Make a new habit.

        Yes because those bags will totally fit in my back pocket... with my wallet and / or phone. Super practical having to carry luggage every day just in case you need to pick up some shopping :)

      SA had this law for 3-4 years now... trust me not a big deal

        8 years actually. It came in in 2009.

    Now watch sales of pre packaged plastic bags go through the roof. Many of us out there reuse the shopping bags at home, now we will have to buy bin liners etc. Great move Danny boy.

      Forget sales, I've been stockpiling them for months since Woolworths and Coles made their dumb announcements.

      I have about 20kg of plastic bags so far, trying to stockpile at least 5 years supply.

      Line your bins with old newspapers. Soaks up all the goop and doesn't take a millennia to decompose.

        I don’t buy newspapers, I use something called the internet.

          You can use the pages of the book the internet is on dummy.

          I don't buy them either, they are easy to get regardless.

          This is a great move for the environment and if dinosaurs like you feel the need to cling to the past then so be it, the world will move on without you.

      What we need are biodegradable bags. We also use plastic shopping bags at home for our bins. But I would rather not use plastic at all. Even if you reuse them they still end up in the environment. If we have to pay a few bucks a month for decomposable bags then so be it. You may save money but somewhere down the line some innocent animal dies because of cost saving. We can’t prevent as long as us humans exist but at least we can reduce it.

    Why not just swap the non biodegradable bags for biodegradable bags. I don't carry reusable bags with me everywhere i go so they are useless and i shouldn't have to pay just to have something hold my groceries till it get home. You're a dick Dan.

    We have a so-called plastic bag ban here in Tassie, all it bans is "single use" bags, so instead of very thin bags you get slightly thicker "reusable" bags which are even more environmentally damaging as they take longer to break down and are still given out by most shops for free, and hence are used by most people as bin liners. The ban has had no effect on reducing plastic bag use at all, except where companies themselves have taken to supplying proper biodegradable bags or paper bags or boxes instead.

    The only way to eliminate plastic bags ending up in the environment is to ban all types completely. After all, they didn't exist 100 years ago and people coped quite well without them. But then, people didn't spend half their time shopping buying crap they don't actually need. Just go to any mall and the problem is obvious.

    Hey Victoria, try shopping at Aldi. The only thing you'll bag is a good bargain.

      Aldi's encourages you to buy reusable (plastic) bags as well. The only (and major) thing Aldi's does is have a supply of boxes you can use.

      Which most supermarkets used to do up until the 90's. I hope they start doing it again if they're getting rid of bags.

    I'm a Melbournian who moved (temporarily) to the ACT. They charge 15c per bag here to encourage people to reuse them.

    All this resulted in is me paying 15c per bag instead of the 0c per bag in Victoria.

    Looks like I'll now be paying this new tax back home as well...

    It's not about plastic, if it were, all the goods you buy would be unwrapped or come in paper wrappers or steel tins.

    They won't give me the old bags but they'll sell me thicker, heavier plastic bags for 15c each.

    If I need ten bags that's only a dollar fifty extra. I can afford that. I have to buy thin plastic disposable bags for the kitchen anyway so all the 15c bags will go into landfill empty. Except for the few I save to bag turtles with on the weekends.

    Spare a thought for the poor checkout operators who will have to deal with irate customers wanting an entire trolley's worth of groceries packed into one small reusable bag, or the customers who bring in filthy bags with who knows what congealing and growing mould inside them.

    The big thick 'cloth' bags are actually plastic. They get thrown out too.

    It has to politicians who are brainless if they think that reducing the use of plastic bags will make a difference to the inhabitants of planet Earth.
    Used disposable nappies are the filthiest objects ever invented which arrive at a dump from a garbage bin.
    Everything plastic should be discontinued because humans survived very well for decades without the obnoxious product.

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