400 Million Plastic Bags Removed From Circulation In South Australia

400 Million Plastic Bags Removed From Circulation In South Australia

South Australia Minister for Sustainability Environment and Conservation Ian Hunter

Landfill Relief From Successful Plastic Bag Ban

Victor P Taffa

The State Government today praised retailers and shoppers for their ongoing support of the plastic bag ban which has been in effect in South Australia since May 2009.

Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Minister Ian Hunter said the ban has effectively removed from circulation in South Australia around 400 Million plastic bags each year bags that would otherwise have ended up in landfill.

“South Australia was the first State to introduce this ban, with the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory following its lead in 2011 and Tasmania, in 2013.” Mr. Hunter said.

“Retailers are prohibited from providing customers with lightweight plastic bags with polyethylene handles that are less than 35 microns thick.”

 

“There may still be suppliers of plastic bags from interstate or overseas where similar bans don’t apply, who may attempt to sell their product to retailers here in South Australia.”

Mr. Hunter said that the ban included lightweight plastic bags with ‘100% degradable’ printed on them, as although they may break down into smaller flakes, they remain damaging to the environment for many years.

“Only plastic bags that are thicker than 35 microns, or compostable plastic bags that comply with Australian Standard AS4736-2006 are permitted to be used in South Australia.” Mr. Hunter said.

The EPA has carried out more than 800 inspections of retail stores since the introduction of the ban and issued 45 warnings.

One expiration notice has been issued to a retailer for ignoring the new legislation.

The maximum penalty a retailer can face for dealing in non-compliant plastic shopping bags is $5,000 or a $315 on-the-spot fine for minor offences.

“Although it appears that the vast majority of retailers and suppliers are doing the right thing, we must not become complacent by allowing suppliers of non-conforming plastic bags to be off-loaded in South Australia.” Mr. Hunter said.

“If a supplier provides a retailer with plastic bags that they know are banned are and found guilty of misrepresenting the bags as being compliant, they could face a maximum penalty of $20,000.”