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5 Facts You Need to Know About Western Australia’s Plastic Bag Ban

Wednesday, October 04, 2017 | Comments (0)

Beginning July 1, 2018, Western Australia will officially ban single-use plastic bags. WA will join the ranks of South Australia, Tasmania, the ACT, and Northern Territory—states that have passed legislation against plastics. Queensland has also promised to ban plastic bags on the same day.

But what exactly is going to happen with the ban? We go over the facts.

1. Lightweight Shopping Bags to be Hit Hardest

WA Premier Mark McGowan has said the ban will apply to lightweight plastic shopping bags—the single-use plastic bags dispensed at supermarket checkouts. The ban will also include so-called “degradable” plastic bags, which the Government said are just as bad for the environment as regular plastic.

2. Plastic Straws and Balloons Allowed—For Now

While the Greens WA has called for the ban of plastic drinking straws and balloons, Environment Minister Stephen Dawson said the Government would not be supporting the move as it would make people’s live harder.

3. Certain Plastic Bags Also Allowed

Stores in WA will still be allowed to sell certain types of bags that meet specific criteria. These bags include thicker, heavy-duty reusable plastic bags and “green” bags like paper and compostable bags. Likewise, carrier bags required for meat and fish will be exempted from the ban.

It is unknown if councils will allow the distribution of plastic bags for dog poop in parks.

4. Retailers Support the Ban

Earlier this year, supermarket giants Woolworths and Coles announced they would completely ban single-use plastic bags across all their stores over the next 12 months. This development may have been instrumental in the WA ban, which Dawson says has the backing of major retailers.

5. NSW and Victoria Pressured to Follow Suit

Naturally, the focus will now turn to the Berejiklian and Andrews governments of NSW and Victoria, respectively, who now face mounting pressure to sign their name to a statewide plastic bag ban. As Australia’s most populous states, observers believe it’s only a matter of time until they cave to the pressure.

As McGowan puts it: “Obviously it creates a bit of controversy–some people don't like it–but, at the end of the day, they respect you doing a right thing.”

Is Plastic Really Bad for the Environment? According to Clean Up Australia, “Australians use an estimated 5 billion plastic bags a year, that's over 20 million new bags being used every day.”

While the WA Government believes that this number makes up for a small percentage of solid waste and litter, they nevertheless highlight its damaging impact on marine wildlife and birds, which accidentally eat or become entangled in plastic bag waste in oceans and landfills.

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