When Wildlife Queensland finally succeeded late last year in its appeal to the State Government to introduce a ban on single-use plastic bags in Queensland we knew it was only the first step. As The Next Step in our critical war on waste, Wildlife Queensland is launching an appeal to address thicker plastic bags and the many other wasteful and deadly littered plastics threatening our wildlife. Are you with us?
As we stated at the time the victory was announced, Queensland’s bag ban was only a first, though significant step forward in reducing plastic packaging and pollution for our marine life and birds in particular. We recognised that for the State Government and many in our community switching to more sustainable options would be a step-by-step process.
Of course, one of the big flaws with the ban is that it only prevents the use of lightweight bags (these are the typical grey bags currently used by most supermarkets at the checkout). It does not stop retailers from providing thicker, department store style bags, which are still plastic bags and when littered still pollute our environment and threaten our wildlife. It is now apparent that the major supermarkets will stop providing lightweight bags, but will they just provide thicker plastic bags for a fee? The ban also does not stop unscrupulous retailers and suppliers from undermining the ban by providing free lightweight bags that are slightly thicker than the banned 35 micron ones. In the case of either or both of these outcomes, action must be taken to address and resolve this flaw in our legislation. Getting these bags removed from circulation in the future will be a Wildlife Queensland priority, and we’re going to need your help.
In the meantime, our message to all shoppers is to use your own durable, reusable bags when you go shopping, and make that your habit. Remember your car keys, your wallet, and your reusable bags. And don’t forget to BYO your produce bags as well! These are all still available through our recently extended Goodbye Plastics Drive – just click here to get all your reusable items in one easy step and support the work of Wildlife Queensland!
Further, last year we went very close to having the deliberate mass release of helium balloons included with Queensland’s plastic bag ban – but not close enough. As we all know, helium balloons, particularly when they have plastic tags and strings attached, are devastating to wildlife. They are probably the number one litter item causing wildlife deaths in Australia, given that studies of deceased Moreton Bay sea turtles conducted 2006-11 found that pelagic turtles had a preference for rubber debris, 78% of which were found to be balloons.
The Queensland Department of Environment has been warning the public that releasing these balloons is littering but the message is not getting through. Many organisations in Queensland still think it is an allowable and acceptable practice. Once the plastic bag ban is in place, Wildlife Queensland will be ramping up its campaign against the mass release of helium balloons in Queensland. For this second priority also, we will need your support!
And we certainly haven’t forgotten about all those other single-use, non-biodegradable plastic items such as takeaway coffee cups, straws and plastic food war, particularly the unnecessary plastic packaging of foods like fresh fruit and vegetables. To continue our campaigns and public education programs to target and reduce these products in the second half of 2018, Wildlife Queensland will also need your support!
Our war on waste in Queensland continues and together we must take The Next Step for our wildlife. For details on how to help us reduce ALL the wasteful and deadly littered plastics threatening our wildlife, keep an eye out for our upcoming appeal due for launch in May. If we are to succeed in taking The Next Step to protect our marine life and birds from this potentially deadly pollution, we cannot afford to rest. The time has come to TAKE THE NEXT STEP!