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About the ban on the supply of lightweight plastic shopping bags

The impacts of plastic pollution on our environment and especially on our marine life are a very real concern to the Queensland Government and the community.

Plastic bags in particular are of significant concern. When plastic bags get into waterways and marine environment animals such as sea turtles and sea birds can ingest, or become entangled in them. Littered plastic bags are unsightly, can clog up infrastructure, and are difficult and costly to clean up.

The Queensland Government is taking action to protect our unique environment through the introduction of a ban on the supply of single-use lightweight plastic shopping bags, and a beverage container refund scheme. Both of these schemes will commence on 1 July 2018.

The problem with plastic bags

It is estimated that close to one billion single-use lightweight plastic shopping bags are used in Queensland each year.

While the majority of these bags end up in landfill, around 16 million lightweight plastic shopping bags enter the environment in Queensland each year.

Plastic bags are one of the most conspicuous items in the litter stream and pose real threats to land and marine environments. They often end up in waterways where they endanger marine life through entanglement or ingestion.

Littered plastic bags also significantly impact on visual amenity, and can clog drains and waterways, leading to increased risk of flooding.

Restricting the number of plastic shopping bags used in Queensland will contribute to the reduction of the total plastic load in the environment.

In February 2017, a consultation paper (PDF, 1.9M) seeking feedback from the public on a ban on the supply of lightweight plastic shopping bags attracted more than 26,000 submissions from individuals, community groups, local governments and retailers. From the responses which were received, an overwhelming 96% supported the introduction of a ban on the supply of lightweight plastic shopping bags by 1 July 2018.

Who does the plastic shopping bag ban apply to?

The plastic bag ban will apply to all retailers in Queensland. Penalties will apply to any retailer who does not comply with the legislation.

The National Retail Association is actively involved in engaging with the retail sector and has developed a dedicated website containing information for retailers about the ban and their obligations, as well as running a series of retailer information workshops across the state before the end of 2017.

Which bags will be banned?

Plastic shopping bags less than 35 microns in thickness (a single-use or lightweight plastic shopping bag) will no longer be able to be supplied to the customer – either sold or given away. This includes compostable, degradable and biodegradable plastic shopping bags, as these can still harm wildlife if littered.

To stay up to date and learn more about ways to reduce plastic in the environment subscribe to the WASTENOTes bulletin.


Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia (CC BY 3.0)
Last updated
26 September 2017
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