On 1 January 2009 South Australia begins phasing in its ban on plastic bags. Plastic bags can still be provided in SA, but all retailers must provide alternatives and display signs informing customers of the upcoming changes.
From May 4th 2009, shops will no longer be allowed to sell or give away lightweight, ‘checkout style’ polyethylene plastic shopping bags. Any retailers doing so can receive on the spot fines of $315 or a maximum penalty of $5,000.
Bags exempt from the ban include reusable ‘Green Bags’, paper bags, “bags on a roll” used for vegetables and fruit, heavier boutique style plastic bags and compostable bags that meet Australian standard AS 4736-2006.
A recent phone survey for Zero Waste SA has indicated that eight out of ten South Australian shoppers have already started to change their habits. More than 90 per cent of those questioned stated their support for the ban.
Retailers who are already plastic bag free include Bunnings, McDonald’s, IKEA, The Body Shop and others. On December 1st, Target switched to compostable bags, which sell for 10 cents, with the profits going to charity.
The advocacy group ‘Do Something!’ is now calling on Peter Garrett to rollout the ban nationally during 2009.
“In January 2008, Peter Garrett publicly confirmed that he would move to phase out plastic bags “by the end of the year”, but he has failed to do this,” said Jon Dee, the Founder and Chairman of ‘Do Something!’
“Peter Garrett’s New Year resolution should be to make the SA ban national in 2009,” said Mr Dee. “By doing so, he could stop Australia from using 4 billion plastic bags a year.”
“South Australia led the way environmentally with CDL and now they are leading once again with plastic bags. We’re hoping that Peter Garrett will follow their example.”