Saturday, April 19, 2008

Plastic bags - a failure of style and substance

While the environmental impacts and statistics of plastic bag use in Australia don't seem to be controversial, it seems our political system in general and Environment Minister Peter Garrett in particular are incapable of doing anything about it.

It seems that our politicians have just pandered yet again to an industry that results in four billion bags are thrown away in Australia each year, many of which go to land fill and directly pollute our environment.

Industry "voluntary schemes" supposed to address this are manifestly inadequate - plastic bag use had ballooned by 40% last year under this approach.

For those waiting for Peter Garrett to "to do good things" now that he is a Labor government minister - I hope you aren't holding your breath. He has pledged to phase out plastic bag use by 2009 but is unable to do anything meaningful to achieve this.

In Victoria, the best Enviroment Minister Gavin Jennings can do is to introduce its own pilot study into a bag levy of 10 to 25 cents in partnership with major supermarket chains later this year.

We should take a lead from South Australia and go with a bag ban from January 2009. Failing that, we should put a tax on them of at least 50c per bag and let basic economics solve the problem.

My grandparents lived their entire life shopping with reusable string bags; we can too.



JeanneE said...

I completely agree! Thanks for the good post - we all need to keep writing about this issue to maintain and increase awareness.

Anonymous said...

A very insightful post indeed Peter. Banning the bag is not going to impact on the economy tremendously but politicians are, by definition, weak sacs of spin.

Incidentally, my blog is no longer at

it's now

If you wouldn't mind changing that on your 'local sites' links toolbar. Much appreciated. Thanks.