Victorian Govt announces plastic bag ban, recycling plan
The Victorian Government last week announced that it will ban single-use, lightweight plastic shopping bags from late 2019 in an effort to help protect the environment from plastic pollution.
The ban will include all plastic shopping bags less than 35 microns in thickness — like those commonly used at supermarket checkouts. It will also include shopping bags made from degradable, biodegradable and compostable plastic.
The decision was made following an overwhelming response of more than 8000 submissions during community consultation on plastic pollution. The public consultation found enormous support for a ban on lightweight plastic shopping bags, with more than 96% of submissions supporting a ban.
Over the next 12 months, the feedback will be used to develop a plastic pollution plan to reduce other types of plastic contaminants in our environment. The government will establish a reference group to help develop the plan, with representatives from government, industry, retailers and community environment groups.
To support the transition away from plastic shopping bags and make the ban as effective as possible, the government will support an education campaign for retailers and the community. The government will also continue working with other states and territories on a national, voluntary phase-out of thick plastic bags.
“We know Victorians want to do more to reduce pollution in our environment — we’ve received an enormous amount of feedback and they’ve told us loud and clear they want us to deliver this ban,” said Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio.
“The government will continue to work closely with Victorian communities and businesses to design the ban — to ensure it works for all Victorians and our environment.”
The ban was announced at the same time as a Senate inquiry into waste and recycling in Australia recommended the phasing out of all petroleum-based single-use plastic bags within five years, and also coincides with the removal of single-use plastic bags at Woolworths and Coles supermarket checkouts nationwide.
It was followed this week by the launch of the Victorian Government’s Recycling Industry Strategic Plan — a $37 million package that is intended to increase the quality of recycled materials in Victoria and develop new markets for them.
The plan is a blueprint for a resilient and efficient recycling system in the medium to long term, with the government helping to drive greater demand for products containing recycled materials through procurement. Sustainability Victoria, in consultation with the Department of Treasury and Finance, will assist government departments and agencies to identify opportunities and, where appropriate, develop their own targets to increase procurement of recycled content.
The plan will boost investment in recycling infrastructure through an $8.3 million expansion to the Resource Recovery Infrastructure Fund, which will improve the quality of up to 100,000 tonnes of recycled material. A further $2 million will go towards market development for recycled materials by identifying new and innovative uses, boosting the current market development program to $4.5 million.
An education program will improve understanding of what can and can’t be recycled, to help reduce the contamination of kerbside recycling. The Landfill Levy Relief Program will also receive an $800,000 boost to ensure the National Association of Charitable Recyclers can continue to ensure that charities can focus their efforts on charitable work.
The holistic plan will be delivered by consumers and waste producers, the resource recovery industry and manufacturers, and all levels of government. It includes the $13 million temporary relief package announced in February for councils and industry to support the ongoing kerbside collection of household recyclable waste, following China’s decision to restrict the import of recyclable materials.
“We’re delivering a new plan for the future of recycling in Victoria — to reduce waste and costs to households, and build a more resilient recycling sector in Victoria,” said D’Ambrosio.
“This plan will create a more stable and productive recycling sector, improving the quality of recycled materials and developing new markets for them.”
To learn more about the plan, visit http://environment.vic.gov.au/sustainability/victorians-urged-to-keep-recycling.
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