Australia's Got Psychics!
Lessons from the road

Battle of the Bags


So in March Peter Garrett announced the Government would NOT impose a plastic bag levy.

Labor went to last year's election promising to phase out plastic bag use but Mr Garrett said a levy was not the way to achieve this.

"All environment ministers, state, territory and commonwealth, will meet in April to consider a range of options in the phasing out of plastic bags," said Mr Garrett.

"The federal government will not support or promote any option for a Federal Government levy to achieve this objective."

As usual, Government promises are Government promises and it looks like, according to today's news, a levy is the way the government will use to phase out plastic bag use.

Sceptics argue that we are already paying for the plastic bags as their cost is incorporated in what we pay for groceries already... which is true... and the supermarkets claim the cost of the plastic bags as business expenses and get tax deductions from them already... which is true... so where is the 10c per bag going?

BagYes, the bags take between 20 to 1000 years to degrade... as does most packaging on all of the groceries we buy.

PACIA, the plastic bag manufacturing industry, point out that most bags end up as household bin liners, which they consider an environmentally sound use, and by banning them people would simply buy more bin liners.

They also argue against the anti-bag people who say that plastic bags are bag because they end up as litter, saying littering is a behavioural problem that cannot be solved simply by banning plastic bags.

Borders Book Store has been presenting a "green face" for a few months now by charging 10c for plastic bags (the levy is donated to a green cause). Andrew Bolt wrote angrily about it back in April, but at least one person found a clever way to avoid the levy.

Green-bag-ad-300-px Others insist that a levy will drive people away from plastic bags and force them to use "environmentally friendly" multi-use green bags. Though you can use the green bags until they fall apart, the bags themselves are non-degradable (according to this site) "The "Green Bag" that is available at supermarkets is a sturdy reusable bag.  However, it will persist in land-fill, rivers, streets for a long time.  The "Green Bag" will not degrade, and will persist in the environment." Three years ago The Sydney Morning Herald reported on how bad these bags are for the environment, but as we know the perception of being green is much more powerful than the reality.

So, as usual, the future of the planet is up to the individual consumer.

Ignore the pleas of those with vested interests (The Government, the Greens, the Supermarkets, the manufacturers) and use common sense.

  • Take your own bags shopping. Canvas or fabric bags. Bags that you use all the time and bags that are made out of natural biodegradable materials.
  • When you just buy a handful of items, say "No bag thanks" and just carry the stuff in your hands.
  • Keep a cardboard box in the boot of your care and use that to cart your purchases around in.
  • And if you really want to carry your groceries home in plastic bags, then add a roll of bin liners (with handles) to your shopping list and put them through the checkout first. Open then up and fill them with groceries. Once you get home you can use them to line your bin with and you won't have wasted a single bag!