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The Queensland Government has committed to banning single-use plastic bags in 2018 – hoorah! They have released a discussion paper and are seeking public input via an online survey into what a ban may look like in practice. The CAFNEC Marine Response Team have put together some points which may help you guide your response. The survey closes on Monday 27th March so have your say now!

Click here to start the Qld Government survey on banning light weight plastic bags now.

Q1. Do you think that 1 July 2018 allows enough time for consumers and retailers to transition to plastic bag alternatives?

  • Yes, people will adapt quickly to bringing their own bags.
  • It has shown to be successful in many other states and countries.
  • An education program for both consumers and retailers should be introduced prior to the ban date to educate on the problem of single-use plastic and the benefits of, and best alternatives to use.
  • Important it is introduced at an appropriate time for retailers, i.e. not at Easter or Christmas.

Q2. Do you agree that biodegradable bags should be included?

  • Yes
  • Taking away all plastic bags will help people to transition.
  • Degradable bags are designed to break into smaller pieces and resemble food for wildlife even more that standard bags.
  • Biodegradable bags contain toxic agents to slow down decomposition taking up to two years to fully decompose. Throughout this time they are in the environment doing damage.
  • People are more likely to litter biodegradable bags thinking that they are ok for the environment.

Q3. Do you support the Queensland Government working with other states and territories to encourage industry to reduce the number of heavier weight plastic department store bags?

  • Include heavier plastic bags in the policy now. Voluntary action to reduce will include education coupled with either a ban/alternative product or a levy on bags anyway.
  • Alternatives to thicker bags, such as consumers just using their own bags or recycled paper bags, must be encouraged.
  • Heavy duty plastic bags take even longer to break down in the environment than normal ones

Q4. What else can be done by the Queensland Government to address plastic pollution?

  • Stop mass release of helium balloons in Queensland. Once released they end up in the ocean and become a serious threat to wildlife.
  • Find alternative to single use bait bags for fishing
  • Plastic items such as polystyrene cups and plates, plastic straws, plastic food ware, and other plastic packaging and food trays should be added to a list of problematic plastics for future policy and education campaigns. Ideally, a future ban like in France should take place.
  • Microplastics (fibres, film, pellets and beads) also need to be managed – either through bans, take back schemes, filtration systems or simply using alternative, non-disposable, or organic items
  • Action needs to be taken towards disposal of cigarette butts which are plastic fibres and usually contaminated with chemicals.
  • Provide incentives for outlets to use compostable crockery such as the brand BioPak, as alternatives to plastic
  • Put in place more bottle refilling stations to encourage people to bring their own bottle and not buy bottled a water
  • Provide better education around recycling, especially in schools
  • Provide more bins in public places, with a recycling bin alongside each one
  • Include tip fees in house rates to reduce illegal dumping
  • More monitoring and strict prosecution of people who dump illegally
  • Advertise and encourage more clean-ups, more often
  • Re-introduce littering advertisements on television
  • Put filters on washing machines to prevent synthetic remnants from entering the drain system
  • Collect and monitor rubbish at tributaries, particularly after the first flood of the season, as is done in Port Douglas, FNQ
  • Introduce soft plastics recycling in all cities, not just major ones
  • Effective implementation of the Container Deposit Scheme scheduled for 2017
  • Provide funding for programs for non-profit groups working on the ground to reduce plastic in the environment Eg. Boomerang Bags, Tangaroa Blue and other community initiatives such as the Drain Stencil Project that spread the message about litter polluting the Great Barrier Reef

Click here to complete the Qld Government survey now