ACT Environment Minister seeks 80 per cent reduction in plastic bag use

Posted by James Ferre on 10th November 2008

The ACT community should achieve a reduction of 80 per cent in plastic bag use, ACT Environment Minister Simon Corbell said on Friday.

Mr Corbell said the ACT would move to instigate a 12-month trial in the first half of next year of a range of measures, including a charge on plastic bags, to reduce plastic bag use.

“The 80 per cent target would be consistent with the results achieved in the recent Victorian trial of a plastic bag charge of 10 cents per bag,” he claimed. “One of the first steps we will need to take is to establish the actual level of plastic bag usage in the Territory as currently usage rates in the ACT, for the major retail chains, are combined with NSW figures.”

From 18 August to 14 September a ten cent government and industry charge was placed on plastic checkout bags from Coles, Woolworths (Safeway) and IGA stores in the three trial areas of Warrnambool, Wangaratta and Fountain Gate.

Victorian Environment and Climate Change Minister Gavin Jennings and CEO of the Australian National Retailers Association Margy Osmond said customers in these areas managed to reduce their plastic bag use by 79 per cent.

“It is not unreasonable to assume though that rates of plastic bag use will not be dissimilar to the experience in the Victorian trial areas,” Mr Corbell said.

The ACT trial would be conducted throughout the Territory.

“The ACT Labor Government will consult with local retailers, the Australian National Retailers Association and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission over the next six months to develop the ACT approach,” Mr Corbell added. “The ACT has also agreed to work with the Victorian Government and other jurisdictions on a nationally consistent approach to reduce plastic bag use, through community education and behaviour change, improved recycling rates and legally mandated mechanisms to impose charges or bans on use.”