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 per cent 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.
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 will come into place by late 2019, with a supporting plastic pollution plan to prioritise our actions to reduce other types of plastic pollution.
Plastic shopping bags less than 35 microns thick will be banned, including degradable, biodegradable and compostable plastic shopping bags.
In June 2018, the Victorian Government announced the next steps towards the legislative ban on lightweight single use plastic bags.
Step 1 – In 2018, the Victorian Government has begun educating retailers and the community about plastic pollution and how to use fewer plastic bags. This will ensure the ban, once introduced, will be as effective as possible.
Step 2 – Over 2018–19, the Victorian Government will develop a plan to reduce other types of plastic pollution in our environment. A reference group of government, industry, retail and community group representatives will be established to help develop a plastic pollution plan and advise the government on how we will tackle other types of plastic pollution.
Step 3 – A legislative ban on lightweight, single-use plastic bags will begin from the end 2019. Plastic shopping bags less than 35 microns thick will be banned, including degradable, biodegradable and compostable plastic shopping bags.
Comedian Sam Simmons is on a mission to help Victorians remember to take their reusable bags.
Rid your home of dangerous and toxic waste responsibly, with the free Detox your Home program.
“Working together, we pledge to play our part and take action on climate change for Victoria, our country and our planet.”
Join thousands of others already playing their part to help keep the temperature rise under two degrees, so we can avoid the worst of climate change. We can make a difference, if we all act today for a better tomorrow.