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

Spain's Cristian Lay Group buys two materials units of bankrupt LSB

April 17, 2014 11:11 am ET

Spanish industrial conglomerate Cristian Lay Group has purchased two of the bankrupt Spanish PET packaging group La Seda de Barcelona.    More

EU moving closer to rules that will reduce plastic bag use by 80 percent

April 17, 2014 10:54 am ET

European Union countries could have to reduce the use of plastic shopping bags by at least 80 percent by 2019 under draft rules backed by the...    More

Image

Polyair rebuilds from Sandy with help from Process Control

April 16, 2014 4:11 pm ET

Hurricane Sandy gutted Polyair Inter Pack Inc.'s Carlstadt, N.J., plant more than a year ago, and Brian Clawson won't soon forget the devastation.    More

Image

British consumers still want their squeeze bottles when it comes to ketchup

April 16, 2014 10:02 am ET

Research commissioned by the British Plastics Federation's packaging group shows that when it comes to the nation's favorite tomato ketchup, 77...    More

With European Parliament vote looming, official urges bag restriction

April 16, 2014 9:56 am ET

Janez Potocnik, Europe's commissioner for the environment, told the European Parliament April 15 that plastic shopping bags are a “highly visibl...    More

Market Reports

Thermoformed Packaging 2014 Market Review & Outlook North America

This in-depth report provides analysis and discussions of economic and political conditions, market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting supply and demand, business opportunities and threats, materials pricing, manufacturing technology, as well as strategies being implemented by thermoformed packaging companies. In addition, there are reviews of 25 leading thermoformers in the packaging segment, assessing their growth initiatives and performance metrics over 10 years.

Learn more

Automotive Market Review and Outlook 2014 The Americas

This 75-page report features in-depth analysis of the automotive industry for the Americas. It includes discussions of market trends, legislative/regulatory activity impacting production and threats as well as design strategies being implemented by the major automakers. Detailed charts and data tables outline North American automotive production over the last five years.

Learn more

Plastics Building & Construction Market Review and Outlook 2014 with MS Excel chart data

This report provides in-depth analysis of the plastic building and construction market for North America, including discussions of trends, opportunities, threats and the latest developments in construction trends that impact plastics processors.

Learn more

Upcoming Plastics News Events

May 6, 2014 - May 8, 2014Plastics in Medical Devices 2014

May 12, 2014 - May 12, 2014Plastics News Brazil Pharma Summit

September 10, 2014 - September 12, 2014Plastics Caps & Closures 2014

February 3, 2015 - February 7, 2015Plastics News Executive Forum 2015

More Events