Plastic bag levy trial to commence in August

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 1st July 2008

A proposed trial to test a 10 cent charge on plastic bags is planned to start in August at three locations in Victoria, CEO of the Australian National Retailers Association (ANRA) Margy Osmond said today.

ANRA and the Victorian Government today announced that an application to authorise the trial of a temporary charge on plastic bags has been submitted to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. Trial authorisation is required under the Trade Practices Act as it will involve retailers collectively setting a price for plastic bags.

If approved by the ACCC, Coles, Safeway and IGA will participate in the one month trial. The trial is to test a 10 cent charge at the Fountain Gate shopping centre (Narre Warren) and nearby stores, Warrnambool and Wangaratta.

“Modelling for the Australian Government shows that a 10 cent charge on plastic bags could result in an 80 per cent reduction in bag use, and an 86 per cent reduction in litter,” Mrs Osmond advised.

Mrs Osmond added that retailers are leading the way and consumers are beginning to get the message about plastic bag use. “Woolworths and Coles have led the way by giving consumers an alternative to plastic bags by providing green bags and recycling facilities,” she claimed. “Australians are kicking their plastic bag habit. Between 2002 and 2007 Australians reduced their plastic bag use by 34 per cent.”

Mrs Osmond indicated retailers will not profit from the charge with the proceeds redirected toward environmental projects and community education..

The data from the trial will be collected and analysed by an independent body before being considered at the next meeting of State, Territory and Commonwealth Environment Ministers (EPHC) in November 2008.

The issue of plastic bags has been a major talking point this year with state governments seemingly unwilling to commit to the same strategy. So far the only official decisions have been from Victoria and South Australia – which has decided on a complete ban by the beginning of next year. The effectiveness of a levy has been questioned, with some concerned convenience could still dictate consumer purchase of the bags, while a complete ban is difficult to administer.