Image: South Australian Zero Waste
As of 1 January 2009, South Australian retailers and shoppers have four months to become accustomed to life without lightweight checkout style plastic bags. The government in that state will as of 4 May 2009 impose fines of up to $5,000 AUD on retailers using that form of bag. Even 100% degradable plastic bags will be banned, as they just break down into smaller plastic shards of plastic anyhow.
Although there were moves for this to be a national campaign (like that of the world first incandescent bulb ban), only South Australia had the balls to follow through on the bags issue. Coincidentally it also the only state in the country to also have a functioning container deposit legislation (CDL) [PDF], whereby beverage bottles carry a refundable deposit (of 10 cents) atop their purchase price, to encourage the return of the container for recycling.The ban applies to all retail outlets in the state and should bags suppliers offer bags to retailers they know to be in breach of the ban those suppliers will face a $20,000 AUD fine. The SA Government suggest that rather than customers getting free bags with their purchases they’ve been paying up to $15 per household per year to cover the cost of some 37,000 tonnes of plastic polymer derived from non-renewable resources.
Certain bags currently in use are exempt from the ban. These include: ‘compostable’ bags that state they meet the Australian Standard, as well as supermarket bags dispensed for loose fruit and vegetables, paper bags, heavier plastic bags as provided by boutique stores, and the now ubiquitous square polypropylene reusable bags.
It is the latter that feature in the associated TV commercial, where the government encourage BYO (bring your own) Bags. South Australian Zero Waste have also dedicated a website to the phaseout, which lists those other governments worldwide with the gumption to also walk this road.
More Plastic Bag Bans on TreeHugger
• Official 2005 Australian ‘Local Hero’ is first bag banner
• 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