Plastic bags to be banned in Queensland
ENVIRONMENT Minister Dr Steven Miles today released a public discussion paper to ensure the community has its say on the Palaszczuk Government's 2018 ban on light-weight single-use plastic shopping bags.
Dr Miles stressed it was important the Government consulted with the community - and key stakeholders - to ensure the best possible outcomes for all Queenslanders.
"The scientific evidence about the harmful impacts of plastic in the environment is growing every day, and there is considerable support for a plastic bag ban," Dr Miles said.
"Retailers and environmental and community groups who attended plastic bag workshops in Queensland in 2015, and at a national plastic bag roundtable in Sydney in February 2016, agreed there was a need to restrict single-use plastic shopping bags.
"The Queensland Government sees a plastic bag ban as a critical step in a long term plastic pollution reduction plan, and we are now seeking public feedback on how best we can move forward with this initiative," Dr Miles said.
Speaking in Sydney where he attended today's Meeting of Environment Ministers, Dr Miles said the Palaszczuk Government had decided to start the litter-busting ban in 2018 - to coincide with its Container Deposit Scheme.
"It's a logical step from the CDS to introduce this initiative to bring about a vast reduction in the numbers of plastic shopping bags blowing in the wind, entering our waterways, harming our wildlife and spoiling our environment," Dr Miles said.
"We've been investigating options to restrict the use of single-use plastic bags since May last year, and only this week the LNP finally caught up and endorsed our environmental policy.
"While their policy is a little light on detail, we are determined to get as much feedback as possible on ensure we get ours right."
Light-weight plastic bags are already banned in South Australia, the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania.
"Although they are only a part of our wider litter problem, light-weight plastic shopping bags are a highly conspicuous pollution source," Dr Miles said.
"Among other things, they are responsible for many entanglement and ingestion incidents among marine wildlife such as sea turtles and sea birds.
"Because of the broader impact that plastic has on the environment, as well as taking action to ban light-weight plastic bags, the government is urging national work with department store retailers on voluntary approaches to reduce the use of the heavier plastic bags," he said.
Boomerang Alliance and Wildlife Queensland spokesperson Toby Hutcheon welcomed the Palaszczuk Government's move towards banning single use plastic bags.
"It is a significant step forward in reducing plastic litter and its impacts," Mr Hutcheon said. "Removing plastic bags in particular will dramatically reduce the impact on native and marine wildlife.
"The Palaszczuk Government came to power promising to act on beverage containers and plastic packaging litter and in the last two years, it has gone a long way in meeting those promises.
"Now Queensland has bipartisan support for banning plastic bags, it should move to implement this as soon as practical," Mr Hutcheon said.
Dr Miles said the latest National Litter Index figures showed that Queensland continued to be the most littered mainland state in Australia.
"According to the national figures, litter is increasing on our beaches.
"Along with our highways and shopping centre car parks, these are our most littered areas.
"We know that plastic bags make up a considerable proportion of the most conspicuous litter items and this ruins people's enjoyment of what should be our beautiful environment," he said.
Also attending Sydney's Meeting of Environment Ministers, Victorian Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio agreed plastic bag litter was a priority issue for all governments.
"Victoria's pleased to continue working with Queensland and New South Wales on this issue, and will be drawing on Queensland's discussion paper for our own considerations," Ms D'Ambrosio said.
The Queensland Government's discussion paper is available online at www.ehp.qld.gov.au/waste.
The closing date for public comment is 27 February, 2017.