SA calls time on plastic bags

By Rob O’Brien

South Australia has become the first state in Australia to ban plastic shopping bags from supermarket checkouts.

The phasing out of plastics bags began in January after the Plastic Shopping Bags (Waste Avoidance) Bill was passed in the Upper House of the state parliament in December last year.

On announcing the ban South Australian Premier Mike Rann said the state was once again leading the nation on issues around the environment.

“Plastic bags have become a scourge on our environment – which is why I hope other States and Territories will now follow our lead,” he said.

“Four billion of them are being produced every year just so that Australians can put a few items in them for the short ride between the supermarket and home.”

An estimated 3.76 billion plastic bags or 20,700 tonnes of plastic are disposed of in landfill sites throughout Australia every year.

According to figures released by the Environment Protection and Heritage Committee last year plastic bag usage in Australia increased by 600 million plastic bags in just one year.

“It is a glaring example of how wasteful we have become,” Rann said. “In a short time, I am sure it will become obvious to people how unnecessary these plastic bags are to our lives."

All retailers, from large supermarkets to small takeaway food shops will be subject to the ban. The Rann Government had given businesses from January 1 to prepare for the change and find alternative reusable bags.

“From today, shoppers will have to use reusable bags, paper bags or compostable bags, such as cornstarch bags that meet the Australian Standard."
Retailers will face on-the-spot fines of $315 or a maximum penalty of $5000 for breaching the ban.

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