Reducing Plastic Pollution – Discussion Paper


Public Consultation questions:

  1. Do you support a ban on single-use lightweight plastic shopping bags? 

    Yes, because:
    Are littered, cause harm to animals (entanglement, ingestion), break up into smaller pieces, accumulate toxicants, present health issues for their hosts, including humans. Cause damage to infrastructure by blocking up drains, resulting in large costs.

  2. Should a ban include thick plastic shopping bags? 

    Yes, because:
    Cause exact same issues as thinner bags. Banning heavier bags now avoids confusion and differing retailer approaches later. Follow QLD's lead, not Tasmania. Most economic option is to ban light-weight, thicker & degradable bags (see your Table 4).

  3. Should a ban include plastic bags that break down over time such as biodegradable, degradable or compostable bags? 

    Yes, because:
    Do not dissolve in water, same issues as other plastic bags in the marine environment. Degradable and compostable bags entering soft-plastic recycling cause issues with their product. Most economic option is to ban these bags as well (see your Table 4).

  4. If lightweight plastic bags were banned, we will need to consider exemptions for some purposes, like medical or security activities. Are there any types of businesses, organisations or activities that you think should be exempt from a plastic bag ban?

    Yes, exemptions can be given to health, medical, policing and security applications. 

  5. If lightweight plastic shopping bags were banned, what alternative bags would you prefer to use?

    Reusable cotton and calico bags
    Other: Fabric bags (from recycled fabric, e.g. Boomerang Bags), Green bags (made from recycled plastic), Paper bags (made from >40% recycled paper) 

  6. What other options should the government consider to reduce plastic packaging in Victoria?

    A container deposit scheme. Ban plastic barrier bags for vegetables and replace with paper/encourage re-useable light-fabric produce bags. Ban polystyrene produce trays, replace with cardboard or re-useable PET trays. Plastic film: move away from film on vegetables and fruit, invest in R&D for alternative. Leave the plastic packaging at the store will encourage producers to rethink (unwrapping at point of sale, packaging to be re-used). Get consumer groups onto Australian packaging covenant. 

  7. What else should the Victorian Government do to reduce the impacts of litter at a local level and across our state?

    Ban smoking within 100 m of all beaches, playgrounds and waterways. Ban balloon releases in all public spaces. Increase litter penalties. Increase funding to EPA to enforce litter laws. Ban/levy on plastic straws. Heavy penalty & enforcement of butt litter. 1 cent refund scheme on cigarette butts. Ban plastic single-use food containers near water fronts. Grants to groups that engage businesses to reduce use of single-use plastic items (The Last Straw, Responsible Café's, Boomerang Bags et al.).

  8. How can Victorians be encouraged to further reduce the impacts of litter in their communities?

    Education campaign about the global crisis of plastic pollution, the cost of our convenience to our environment, economy and health, and present solutions. A container deposit scheme will encourage and reward removal of container litter and is likely to have a knock-on effect on improved recycling behaviours. Funding for waste officers, ongoing funding for resource-smart schools. Provide grants for clean-up groups to help increase public participation.

  9. What other plastic pollution issues should government, business and communities work together to address?

    Work toward a ban on polystyrene (ban where not needed and support R&D on alternative). Ban fishing bait bags and replace with re-sealable PET containers with ‘bring it back’ refund scheme. Microfibres from clothing: Install filters in washing machines, invest in R&D to contain microfibres. Advocate the federal government to mandate import tariff on non-environmentally friendly products and packaging. Funds to go into plastic pollution R&D.

  10. What strategies to address plastic pollution do you think would be most effective?

    Mandatory school visits to waste handling/recycling facilities. Include plastic pollution into school curriculum. Initiatives that encourage product responsibilities. Need for a circular economy (product is designed with reusing or recycling in mind). Engage Industries to move away from single-use items toward re-usable products. Demand new products to contain a percentage of recycled material to boost recycling industry. Facilitate community – industry advocacy.