Australia’s new Environment Minister, ex Midnight Oil singer, Peter Garrett has said he’d like to see the country rid of free plastic shopping bags by the end of the year. When this news broke last week the usual internet cry of ‘what am I going to do for free bin liners? went up. You’re going to have to buy them, is the short answer*. It's known as 'User Pays.' A great pillar of the much heralded modern free market. That’s what happened in Ireland when they instituted their 15 cent PlasTax. Sales of bin liners did grow, but the volume of free bags dropped by some 90%. In the three months after the tax was introduced, shops handed out just over 23 million plastic bags - about 277 million fewer than normal, the Irish government said.
We’ve seen that China can ante up for a plastic bag ban by June this year and they use in one day what Australia would take nine months to get through!
4 billion bags are apparently given away annually by Australian retail stores, some of which in up in waterways, impeding stormwater drainage and more viscerally injuring marine life who get them wrapped around their bodies, or, thinking they are jelly fish, try to eat them.
The Australian Retailers Association has come out and said that consumers will be the ones who pay if the ban goes ahead. Shock! Does this mean supermarkets are currently giving shoppers the bags as outright gifts and not including the cost of buying the bags into their existing overheads? Hah. Via :: ABC
* PS. With aware shopping (bulking in bulk, reusable bags, minimal meat product, etc) a good municipal recycling scheme and an effective composting, wormfarm or bokashi bucket arrangement, most of what goes in your bin is likely to be dry waste (plastic packaging and so on) that probably doesn’t need a bin liner anyhow.