Do Something about ... plastic pollution
The tenth anniversary of Coles Bay going plastic bag free!
The Tasmanian town of Coles Bay is celebrating the tenth
anniversary of their ban on plastic checkout bags. This week ten
years ago, they were the first Australian town to ban
non-biodegradable plastic checkout bags.
Ban organisers Jon Dee and Ben Kearney from the Do Something
charity have been in Coles Bay to celebrate the town's
environmental leadership. Over the last 10 years, the small
community has reduced plastic bag usage by 2 million bags.
Since Coles Bay led the way on banning plastic bags, South
Australia, the ACT and the NT have all banned single-use
lightweight plastic checkout bags. After a vote backed by MPs of
all parties, Tasmania is on the verge of a statewide ban.
Around Australia, many retailers no longer provide or give away
free plastic checkout bags. Bunnings, Target, IKEA, Nando's,
McDonald's and others are all plastic bag free at the checkout.
Some retailers have set marvellous role models. Target's
reusable bag sales have raised more than $1 million for the Alannah
and Madeline charity and Australia's fastest growing supermarket
chain, ALDI have never given away free plastic bags at the
Despite this good news, analysis by the Do Something
organisation shows that Australians have used at least 50 billion
plastic checkout bags since 2002 - the year Jon Dee and Ron Clarke
launched the national campaign to ban plastic bags.
"Australians embraced the green bag in great
numbers, but the national ban on plastic checkout bags that was
promised by our politicians never came about," said
Jon Dee, the Founder and Managing Director of Do Something..
"As a result, supermarkets continue to give away far
too many plastic checkout bags and marine life continues to suffer
from the problem of plastic bags and other plastic
Figures show that Australia's big supermarkets are still giving
out billions of plastic bags every year. As a result, Dee and
Kearney are calling on the Federal Government to reintroduce the
once promised national phase out of plastic bags.
"The large supermarket chains need to account for
the billions of plastic bags that they continue to give
out," said Ben Kearney, the Tasmanian Director of Do
Something. "At the very least, these supermarkets
should report publicly on how many plastic bags they buy and give
out every year."
Dee and Kearney are calling on Coles, Woolworths and IGA to
publicly disclose how many plastic bags they have bought over the
last 5 years and to report on how they intend to reduce the
billions of plastic bags that they still use every year.
"Target set a wonderful example with their ban on
plastic checkout bags," said Jon Dee.
"The way they banned plastic bags should be introduced
on a national basis. Their charge for reusable bags has raised over
a million dollars for charity and their use of biodegradable
plastic checkout bags has really helped the
"If we followed Target's example, our society and
the environment would both benefit."
A Call For Leadership
Regardless of who is in Government over the coming years, it's
time for Australia to once again lead the way internationally on
reducing plastic bag use."
"John Howard's Government did a great job in
beginning the phase-out of single-use plastic checkout bags, but
despite promising to do so, the Rudd Government failed to implement
the ban," said Jon Dee.
"Today our supermarkets are once again throwing
plastic bags at us for the smallest of items and that needs to
stop. We need to see leadership again."