Single-use, lightweight plastic shopping bags will be banned in Victoria from next year, though the exact date is not yet known.
The State Government has given environmental protection issues a high priority, with ongoing programs to reduce carbon emissions, set renewable energy targets, and implement measures to control waste and reduce landfill.
The Victorian Budget is providing $30.4 million over four years in new funding to improve the ways we manage waste and recover resources. Some measures include disposal of e-waste and methods of converting waste to energy.
Supermarket giants Coles and Woolworths announced their own bans earlier this year, planning to phase them out within 12 months. The bags have already been banned in South Australia, ACT, Northern Territory and Tasmania, with Queensland to follow next year.
Minister for Environment Lily D’Ambrosio said the Government would consult closely with businesses and the community on how best to implement the plastic bag policy. Outright banning of lightweight plastics can lead to undesirable results, including increased use of heavier duty plastics, with an even greater environmental impact.
Reducing the number of plastic bags is an important part of addressing the overall impacts of plastic pollution. Plastics in the environment break up into smaller and smaller pieces over time, becoming harder to manage. They can end up in waterways, lakes and oceans, contributing to litter and posing a significant hazard to marine life, which can die from eating them or becoming entangled.
For consumers, the bans mean they will need to use their own shopping bags or buy other bags from retailers. Small takeaway food businesses may find it difficult to replace plastic bags, and will need time to overcome that problem.
To work with the community on how to best manage plastic pollution, and deliver a workable scheme, the Government is seeking feedback until the end of January. The feedback will then be collated, to be published in March.
You can find out more or have your say. at engage.vic.gov.au/waste/plastic-pollution.