Goodbye, placcy

AFTER years of campaigning and a few attempts by local councils, lightweight single-use plastic bags will be banned in WA from July next year.

Fremantle was the first council to attempt a local ban in 2013, but it was blocked by the former Liberal state government.

In June Vincent councillors voted “in principal” for a local ban, but while they were working out the nuts and bolts of their policy, the state government stepped in and announced a state-wide fatwa on Tuesday.

WA environment minister Stephen Dawson said “there has been an overwhelming response from people in the community who are really keen to see a state-wide ban on single-use plastic bags,” noting he’d received a lot of letters from school children calling for a ban.

• WA environment minister Stephen Dawson and Perth MP John Carey are glad to see the end of plastic bags. Photo by Steve Grant

“Studies have shown plastic pollution has a significant impact on our environment—seabirds have been found with their digestive tracts packed with plastic fragments and turtles can confuse plastic bags with jellyfish.”

Perth Labor MP John Carey says banning plastic bags was one of the top issues raised by his constituents.

“I want to thank the many locals who really got behind this campaign, I think this really is a win for the community,” he said.

Mr Carey’s stall at the Mt Hawthorn festival had a placcy bag petition and he says it was clear “people were really passionate about this issue.”

Maylands Labor MP Lisa Baker welcomed the ban.

“It’s been really well publicised the damage plastic does to wildlife, particularly in the ocean”.

She said a WA ban was long overdue as even Kenya’s now banned single-use placcy bags (although they have a four-year prison sentence if you’re caught with them, which she thought was a bit too far).

Along with the container deposit scheme that’ll let people exchange empty recyclable bottles and cans for 10 cents, the bag ban aims to reduce the amount of plastic that winds up in the environment.

A lot of people use the free bags from supermarkets as bin liners, and a 2012 review of South Australia’s bag ban found there was a big increase in people buying bin liners after the ban came in, while in the ACT the levels didn’t jump much.

But unlike errant free plastic bags floating down the street, paid-for bin liners end up in landfill instead of waterways.

by DAVID BELL

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