Plastic bag fatwa

SINGLE-use plastic bags could be a thing of the past in Vincent after councillors voted “in principle” to ban them.

City staff will now prepare a report on the costs and ramifications of a ban and write to the state government, requesting that it considers a state-wide fatwa.

East Freo town and Fremantle councils have already submitted bag-ban proposals to the state government, and Vincent council staff said it would keep an eye on their progress so they weren’t reinventing the wheel.

Vincent previously tried to ban-the-bag when Alannah MacTiernan was mayor, but the state government knocked back the proposal.

• Within minutes of being down at Banks Reserve, the Voice and Vincent mayor Emma Cole spotted plastic bags floating in the river. Photo by Steve Grant

Ms Cole said the damage to the environment from plastic bags was incontrovertible: up to 50 million wind up in the environment as litter every year, and CSIRO found the south west coastline of WA has one of the highest concentrations of plastic debris in Australia, likely due to winds and ocean currents blowing them here.

When Ms Cole went down to Banks Reserve for a shoot with our photographer, it wasn’t long before they spotted plastic bags in the river.

Cr Josh Topelberg said, “the way this has been progressing in this state, I find a little bit ridiculous”.

He said the state government should handle the ban, instead of “shifting the burden” onto councils, which may have difficulty in policing it.

“It’s something the state should be taking leadership on…it would be much simpler if it became a state law.”

Ms Cole said she’d heard encouraging words from new WA environment minister Stephen Dawson, who’s seeking advice on a possible state-wide ban.

At Tuesday night’s Vincent council meeting, Cr Matt Buckels baffled everyone with strange analogies.

“Banning plastic bags is a bit like saving the panda,” he said, explaining that the ban makes you think more broadly about the environment and it’s not just about the bag/panda.

He said there was a great event coming up called “Plastic Free July,” which is “a bit like the refugee challenge, but it’s a plastic free challenge”. Perth council is also reconsidering its policy on plastic bags, see story on page 6.

by DAVID BELL

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