Wildlife Queensland calls on the Minister for Environment to take action on thicker plastic bags (and helium balloons) after Coles’ oscillation on providing them for free exposed a serious vulnerability in Queensland’s bag ban policy.
In an unfortunate turn of events recently, Coles’ backflip-backpedal routine made it clear that, should retailers choose to remove the charge on thicker plastic bags for commercial or customer relations reasons, Queensland’s hard-won plastic bag ban would be undermined.
“This would render the plastic bag ban a pointless Government initiative,” warned Wildlife Queensland in a letter last month to Minister for Environment, the Great Barrier Reef, Science and the Arts, Hon. Leeanne Enoch M.P.
“The rationale for charging for thicker bags is to limit and reduce their continued use,” it read. “If they are provided for free, not only will this increase use, it will encourage consumers to modify their behaviour towards thicker bags rather than genuinely reusable BYO bags.”
Under these circumstances, WPSQ believes that the Government should propose a joint jurisdictional strategy to phase-out thick plastic bags. This would maintain the agenda of reducing problematic plastics and protect the plastic bag ban’s intent. In its letter to Minister Enoch, the Society suggested that such a phase-out could be considered in 2019, after an appropriate transition period.
Further, as previously raised with the Minister, the Society reiterated that the deliberate release of helium balloons is an act of littering under Queensland Waste legislation, a seemingly misunderstood fact by many in the community who continue to release the balloons at events. Wildlife Queensland’s appeal to the Minister went on to formally propose “that the Government, before the end of 2018:
Introduces a NSW-style legislation into the Parliament that specifically bans the deliberate release of helium balloons at public events
Amends the current QLD Waste Act to make it clear that the deliberate release of helium balloons is an act of littering and a prosecutable offence.”
WPSQ concluded its entreaty by welcoming the Minister’s early action and consideration of the two measures outlined therein. We will be sure to keep members and supporters informed of further developments.