Half of Australia’s territories, states now ban thin HDPE bags

By Kate Tilley
Correspondent

Published: June 27, 2013 2:19 pm ET
Updated: June 27, 2013 2:21 pm ET

Related to this story

Topics Packaging, Sustainability, Film & Sheet, Extrusion, Government & Legislation, Grocery bags

Half of Australia’s states and territories have now banned single-use, lightweight plastic bags.

The island state of Tasmania passed legislation banning bags May 29. South Australia was the country’s first state to ban HDPE bags, in May 2009; the Northern Territory followed in September 2011; and the Australian Capital Territory in November 2011.

While they are Australia’s least-populated states and territories, there is pressure on New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia’s governments to follow suit.

After Nov. 1, Tasmanian retailers can no longer give shoppers non-biodegradable, lightweight HDPE shopping bags less than 35 microns thick. The move follows all three major political parties in Tasmania supporting a bag ban in 2010.

Still permitted under the legislation are compostable bio¬degradable bags, heavier plastic bags (typically used by clothing and department stores) and barrier film bags used for fruit, vegetables, meat and other perishables.

Sydney-based action group DoSomething! started campaigning for a statewide ban in Tasmania 10 years ago after the Tasmanian coastal town of Coles Bay became Australia’s first town to phase out plastic bag use in April 2003.

DoSomething! founder and Managing Director Jon Dee estimates Coles Bay has reduced plastic bag use by two million bags in the last decade.

He said Australia is “heading in the right direction” toward a national ban, and the group is talking with another state about potentially introducing a ban, but he would not say which state.

Despite bans in the five states and territories, Dee estimates Australians have used at least 50 billion plastic checkout bags since 2002.

Until a national ban is introduced, Dee wants Australia’s three major supermarket chains — Melbourne-based Coles Ltd., Sydney-based Woolworths Ltd. and Independent Grocers of Australia — to disclose how many plastic bags they have given to customers in the last five years.

Dee said an industry whistleblower told him supermarkets have “misled” governments by understating their plastic bag use by “billions.” He said the information is readily available because supermarkets tender annually for bag supplies.

Spokesmen for the three chains did not respond to Plastics News’ questions on the matter.

Dee praised the approach taken by national retailer Target Australia Pty. Ltd., based in Geelong, Victoria. Target has banned non-biodegradable plastic checkout bags in all its more than 300 stores nationwide, so customers must bring their own bags or buy degradable bags in stores, with funds going to charities.

“The way [Target] banned plastic bags should be introduced on a national basis,” Dee said.

Alternatively, he suggested Australia adopt the Republic of Ireland’s model, which he claims is a “demonstrable success.”

In 2002, Ireland introduced a national levy on plastic bags. Ireland’s Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government said plastic bag consumption dropped more than 90 percent once the levy was introduced.

A February report to SA’s parliament found that state’s lightweight, single-use plastic bag ban is effective in reducing use and changing consumer behavior.

The Plastic Bag Ban Empirical Study was commissioned by the government-run Zero Waste SA and conducted by the University of South Australia’s Ehrenberg Bass Institute for Marketing Science. It is based on 614 supermarket shoppers’ observations; exit interviews with 278 of the observed shoppers; 77 intercept interviews in a shopping mall setting; and in-depth interviews with 13 members of a task force dedicated to phasing out plastic bags.

It found 80 percent of people support the ban; twice as many households regularly take their own shopping bags than before the ban; and only 4 percent of households claim to never take their own bags. However, it found shoppers buying rubbish bin liners has increased from 15 percent to 80 percent.

Dee said although bin-liner sales have increased, overall, plastic bag use has decreased by at least 400 million since the South Australia ban was introduced. But he said the figures are based on supermarkets’ “misinformation,” so it is difficult to know exactly how many bags are sold.

 


Comments

Half of Australia’s territories, states now ban thin HDPE bags

By Kate Tilley
Correspondent

Published: June 27, 2013 2:19 pm ET
Updated: June 27, 2013 2:21 pm ET

Post Your Comments


Back to story


More stories

Image

African equity fund invests in Kenya's General Plastics

January 28, 2015 4:24 pm ET

An African investment fund specializing in agriculture has invested in Kenyan packaging firm General Plastics Ltd. to provide funds to expand in the...    More

Image

Plastics help Volt hit new target

January 28, 2015 1:54 pm ET

The 2016 Volt, unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January, features a sportier exterior design — GM calls it...    More

M&A deals in packaging hit record

January 28, 2015 1:49 pm ET

It's good to be in packaging these days. More precisely, it's good to be in packaging and decide to sell or merge.    More

Image

FPI joins curbside recycling group

January 28, 2015 11:47 am ET

Foodservice Packaging Institute is joining the board of the Curbside Value Partnership, a non-profit group that works to improve curbside recycling...    More

Image

Agricultural container recycling grows

January 28, 2015 11:42 am ET

Plastic pestitcide container recycling shot up by nearly 40 percent last year, according to new statistics from the Virginia Department of Agriculture...    More

Market Reports

Plastics in Automotive: Innovation & Emerging Trends

This special report newly released by PN and sponsored by The Conair Group examines current trends in the use of plastics in automotive, materials innovations and the changing landscape. It includes a review of legislative/regulatory activity impacting vehicle development and lightweighting, market opportunities & challenges for mold and toolmakers, innovative design strategies being implemented by major OEMs and suppliers, as well as a review of key indicators in Canada, Mexico, Brazil and China.

Learn more

Plastics Recycling Trends in North America

This report is a review and analysis of the North American Plastics Recycling Industry, including key trends and statistics based on 2013 performance. We examine market environment factors, regulatory issues, industry challenges, key drivers and emerging trends in post-consumer and post-industrial recycling.

Learn more

Injection Molding Market Analysis & Processor Rankings

Plastics News BUNDLED package contains our in-depth Market Analysis of the Injection Molding segment. You will gain keen insight on current trends and our economic outlook.

As a BONUS this includes PN's updated 2014 database of North American Injection Molders RANKED by sales volume. Sort, merge, mail & prospect by end market, materials processed, region, # of plants and more.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

February 4, 2015 - February 6, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

June 2, 2015 - June 3, 2015Plastics Financial Summit - Chicago 2015

September 16, 2015 - September 18, 2015Plastics Caps & Closures - September 2015

More Events