Lets get plastic bags out of the environment: Greens

September 13, 2002 - Greens (WA) MLC, Robin Chapple has pledged to continue lobbying government, opposition and independent members of parliament to introduce a levy on plastic shopping bags here in Western Australia.

Following recent reports that a similar levy in Ireland has netted $3.5 million in revenue in just three months and massively decreased the amount of plastic bag litter in the community, Mr Chapple said that such a levy would be a huge incentive for consumers to be more aware of the impact of their own consumption habits.

“Rather than being simply a way of raising revenue, the introduction of a levy would be more of a public awareness campaign to encourage both shoppers and retailers to think about the impacts of plastic bag pollution on the environment and look at alternative ways of carrying their groceries such as recycled paper bags, reusable plastic bags, cloth bags and boxes,' he said.

Mr Chapple has written to every state politician asking their views on a proposal to create a 15 cent levy on each plastic bag used and calling on the Government to introduce such legislation as it would be considered a money bill and cannot be introduced by the Legislative Council.

“Currently, most retailers provide non-biodegradable plastic bags and most of those end up as landfill or are irresponsibly discarded and create litter that will continue to endanger and pollute our environment,' he said.

“The news from Ireland is that this program has been an outstanding success with the Environment Minister claiming there has been an immediate reduction in the use of disposable plastic bags and an obvious aesthetic improvement on the local environment,' Mr Chapple said.

The Irish levy exempts smaller plastic bags carrying non-packaged goods such as dairy products or fruit and vegetables and retailers are obliged by law to pass a 15 cent charge per bag to the customer with the receipt having to reflect that charge.

“I want Western Australia to set an example to the rest of the country by becoming the first state in Australia to introduce such a levy and put the money raised back into community based environmental improvement projects,' he said.

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