Today's the day. The day when the state of South Australia officially bans single use plastic shopping bags. As we mentioned, at the start of the year, retailers will be fined if they provide customers with plastic, or even so called 'degradable' bags. All they can offer instead are truly compostable (ie, worm and microorganism friendly), or reusable bags.
Other states did not come to the party when the Australian government attempted, last year, to make the nation plastic bag free. So South Australia is going it alone.
Well, maybe not entirely alone. The national retail chain, Target, announced at the end of April they will, as of 1 June 2009, phase out plastic bags (PDF) from their 283 stores. As of that date they won't give away any more free bags, but will make available for sale a range of corn starch bags, or reusable bags. Profits from the sale of reuseable bags will be forwarded to the national charity, Alannah and Madeline Foundation, who work to keep children safe from violence. Target CEO, Launa Inman, is quoted as saying:
We believe the fee on compostable bags will encourage customers to stop and think whether they need a bag, only buy the bags they really need and drive the change to reusable bags.
We can only hope, for by Target's own admission, their stores having been doling out 100 million bags per year. Which seems rather a significant amount, when South Australia expect their statewide ban will reduce the landfilling of some 400 million plastic bags annually.
But then we learn that Target's ban on single use plastic bags amounts to "just under 3 per cent of the 4 billion bags that pass through checkouts each year," in Australia. But still with one state banning the bags, and a growing number of national companies also banning them, a tipping point might just be attained.
All of which must be music to the ears of Ben Kearney, the Tasmanian baker, who in 2003 campaigned for his town, Coles Bay, to be the first official Plastic Bag Free Town in Australia, if not the world.
(NB: Target Australia is unrelated to stores of same name in the US.)
More Plastic Bag Bans
• Shopping Bag Tax for San Francisco?
• San Francisco To Ban Plastic Shopping Bags
• Whole Foods Bans the Bag
• China Launches Crackdown on Plastic Bags
• IKEA Bans Plastic Bags for Good
• Anti-Plastic Bag Campaign, now in Buenos Aires