Greens Member for Ballina Tamara Smith today delivered the Second Reading speech for the Plastic Shopping Bags Prohibition Bill.
The proposed legislation would ban retailers from supplying single-use plastic shopping bags to consumers so as to reduce the impact of plastic bag litter on the environment, including the marine environment, where plastic bags contribute to the deaths of sea life such as turtles, dolphins, whales and seals.
“As the NSW Greens spokesperson for the Marine Environment I am pleased to bring before the House the Plastic Shopping Bags Prohibition Bill 2016 which delivers on the Greens commitment during the 2015 State election campaign to introduce a bill to ban single-use light-weight plastic shopping bags in NSW by the end of 2017,” said Ms Smith.
“It is estimated that over 4 billion plastic bags are used in Australia each year.
“The lightweight plastic shopping bags provided by retail outlets are often referred to as ‘single-use’ because once supplied, they are typically not taken back to a retail store by the consumer for re-filling. They are a one-off convenience but they are many lifetimes of impact on our environment.
“Convenience is no longer an acceptable excuse for littering our landscapes and polluting our oceans and killing or maiming the animals that live in them.
“When the average plastic bag is used for only five minutes but can take up to 1,000 years to break down in the environment we have clearly got our priorities as a species out of whack.
“We have all been guilty I am sure in the past of having a drawer full of empty plastic shopping bags at home. It only takes four grocery trips for an average Australian family to accumulate 60 plastic shopping bags. Those days have got to stop,” said Ms Smith.
“Community organisations in my electorate such as Save the Mermaids, Plastic Free Byron, Mullum Cares and the Brunswick and Byron Boomerang Bags sewing groups are helping change the mindset of shoppers, and to get them to bring their own reusable bags.
“Businesses are also getting behind the cause with Santos health foods in Byron Bay offering discounts on all bulk items for anyone signing up for the Plastic Free July pledge and the Mullumbimby IGA banning plastic bags voluntarily to overwhelming customer support,” said Ms Smith.
“It’s time that we here in New South Wales took responsibility for the rubbish we contribute to landfills and waterways. It’s past time that we joined the many other cities, states and countries in banning single use plastic bags,” said Ms Smith.