This call follows a plan unveiled by Victorian Environment Minister John Thwaites at a meeting of all Environment Ministers in Darwin recently, to try and force all small retailers to join the National Packaging Covenant (NPC) in phasing out plastic bags.
Environment Victoria’s Zero Waste Campaign Director Jenny Henty says this is a ludicrous plan and if we are to be serious about cutting the scourge of plastic bags then a ban or levy is the only option. For the past two years, major retailers have failed dismally to voluntarily reduce plastic bag consumption.
By 2004, retailers were suppposed to have reduced plastic bag use by 25%. In reality they struggled to get to 20%. Just 4% of small businesses took part, whereas 25% were meant to have signed on.
Ms Henty says Environment Ministers must not kowtow to industry any longer, allowing billions of plastic bags to choke our waterways, parks and landfill sites, maiming and killing thousands of animals.
“A levy or a ban is such a simple, sensible, easy solution and small businesses stand to benefit from a ban or levy. Supplying plastic bags free of charge forces costs up, which is reflected in prices. A ban or levy would create a level playing field and small retailers would be better able to compete against the big supermarkets.”
“Ideally, a levy would be placed on suppliers to be passed down to retailers, as the majority of plastic bags are imported.”
When Ireland introduced a 27 cent levy on plastic bags in 2002, use decreased by 90% over a six month period.