After two years of leading the campaign for a plastic bag-free Queensland, Wildlife Queensland is delighted by the Queensland Government’s announcement on 25 November regarding the introduction of a ban on single-use, lightweight plastic bags in our state.
“This is a significant step forward in reducing plastic litter and its impact upon native and marine wildlife,” said Wildlife Queensland President Peter Ogilvie.
“The banning of single-use plastic bags has been a major focus for Wildlife Queensland, and we are proud that we have achieved this outcome. The ban will have a profound and positive impact, and drastically reduce the threat that plastics represent to our native birds and animals,” he said.
Plastic bags in particular are a problem for birds and marine animals that often mistake them for food or get entangled in them. Data show that 36 percent of turtles found dead in Moreton Bay died due to ingestion or entanglement with plastic items. Seventy percent of loggerhead turtles found dead in Queensland waters had ingested plastic. Plastic bags, because they tend to float on water, are identified as a major threat to feeding turtles.
The proposed ban will follow similar bans already in place in South Australia, ACT, Northern Territory and Tasmania. These schemes have proven to be effective in reducing plastic bag litter and changing consumer behaviour, with most shoppers now using BYO bags. The bans remain popular with consumers.
“The significant difference contained in the Queensland plan is the inclusion of degradable and biodegradable plastic bags in the ban. These tend to degrade into small pieces or take too long to disintegrate in the marine environment, making them even more dangerous for wildlife,” said Ogilvie.
Whilst the State Government has been working and consulting with stakeholders for some time on this ban, Wildlife Queensland would like to acknowledge the contribution of the Queensland LNP who announced their support for a plastic bag ban on 21 November 2016. Bi-partisan support for the ban has made this positive decision possible.
Ogilvie said, “Banning plastic bags is a big step – but only a first step – in eliminating problematic plastics packaging. We recommend that other items such as helium balloons, plastic straws, polystyrene cups and foodware be considered for inclusion through the consultation process.”