In the past, Australians use 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.
These plastic bags fill our landfill, harm our wildlife, and break up into smaller and smaller fragments that continue to cause environmental harm. Most Victorian council kerbside recycling bins do not accept plastic bags, and only 3% of Australia's plastic bags are currently being recycled.
Wherever possible, use bags you already have at home such as backpacks or cloth bags for your shopping. Keep them handy so that you never need to take a single-use plastic bag. Reusable cloth bags such as cotton, calico or bamboo are a more sustainable choice because they are made from natural fibres.
Get used to saying a simple 'No bag please' at the checkout and have your reusable bag ready.
Aim to build better bag habits and refuse single-use plastics wherever you can.
With better bag habits, remembering your reusable bags will become second nature. Before you leave home, don’t forget ‘Bag, wallet keys and phone'.
It is really important to keep soft plastic bags OUT of your kerbside recycling bin.
Soft plastics are the number one contaminant of recycling, so make sure you don’t put your paper or other kerbside recycling into plastic bags.
Recycling requirements vary across Victoria, so check your local council to make sure you recycle right in your area.
Soft plastics including plastic shopping bags, can be recycled at many supermarkets through the REDcycle program.
While you are at it, try refusing and reducing other single-use plastic, like sandwich bags, freezer bags and garbage bags.
Try substituting a glass instead of plastic container for your leftovers and wrap food scraps in a sheet of newspaper. One newspaper is much cheaper than a packet of plastic bags.
Use your influence as a consumer and choose more sustainable packaging when shopping.
In 2017–18, the Victorian Government received more than 8000 submissions to a public consultation on plastic pollution.
These responses led to a ban on lightweight plastic shopping bags from 1 November 2019. A supporting ban will prioritise reducing other types of plastic pollution.
Plastic shopping bags with a thickness of 35 microns or less are banned. These include degradable, biodegradable and compostable plastic shopping bags.
Comedian Sam Simmons is on a mission to help Victorians remember to take their reusable bags.