Build better bag habits
Did you know?
In the past, Australians have used up to 10 million plastic bags every day – an astonishing 4 billion every year. Of these, approximately 150 million end up in our oceans and waterways, contributing to an estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic dumped into the ocean every year.
Although plastic is lightweight and low cost, it doesn’t go away; it breaks into many pieces, ends up in landfill or as litter and can cause long term harm to the environment and wildlife.
National Geographic Magazine reported in June 2018 that of all plastic ever produced, over 90 per cent has never been recycled. Even bags that are biodegradable only break down in certain composting conditions, so it's best to avoid single-use plastic bags.
Plastic can be a really great material to use in some cases but, when it comes to carrying our shopping, there are better alternatives.
Look for well-made canvas, string or fabric bags to make sure they will really last and reduce plastic waste and pollution.
Make a reusable bag an essential in your day – just like your wallet, keys and phone!
New research carried out by Sustainability Victoria has found that:
- one quarter (27%) of young Victorians currently rely on single-use plastic bags when shopping for food items, compared to one tenth (10%) of older shoppers
- young Victorians (54%) and those with higher household incomes (57%) are more likely to rely on single-use plastic bags when shopping for non-food items
- one in four males (25%) currently rely on single-use plastic bags when food shopping compared to just one in seven (14%) females.
Plastic bag alternatives
With better bag habits, remembering your reusable bags will become second nature. Before you leave home, remember ‘Bag, wallet, keys and phone.'
- Stash your bags at home, in the car and at work so you are always ready to shop.
- Green, canvas, hessian and lightweight nylon bags are widely available from major supermarkets, homewares stores and online retailers.
- Foldable bags are very compact and fit easily in a pocket, in your handbag or backpack.
- Most stores and supermarkets also offer alternatives at the checkout for a small fee, including cloth and string bags if you've forgotten to bring your own.
Plastic bag ban
The Victorian Government received over 8000 submissions in three months of public consultation on plastic pollution in 2017–18. These responses are informing the design of a ban on plastic shopping bags and determining other ways to reduce other plastic pollution.
Based on this information, a ban on lightweight plastic shopping bags came into effect on 1 November 2019, with a supporting plastic pollution plan to prioritise our actions to reduce other types of plastic pollution.
Plastic shopping bags with a thickness of 35 microns or less are banned, including degradable, biodegradable and compostable plastic shopping bags.
You can report retailers using suspected banned plastic bags to EPA Victoria. Anyone can make a report although we do ask that you first check which bags are and are not banned.
A report can be made by:
- calling the EPA on 1300 372 842
- sending an email to the EPA.
Find out more by visiting the EPA webpage about plastic bags.
Information for businesses
Are you a business looking for more information on the ban?
Better Bag Habits campaign resources
Resources for local councils, businesses and community groups to support the Better Bag Habits campaign.