Queensland to ban plastic carrier bags by 2018
14th December 2016
The state Government in Queensland, Australia, has recently announced plans to introduce a ban on single-use plastic carrier bags by 2018. This announcement follows a pledge from the leader of the opposition Liberal National Party, Tim Nicholls, to introduce such a ban if elected to power in the next state election. Queensland would not be the first Australian state to introduce a bag on single-use plastic bags, with equivalent bans in place in South Australia, Northern Territory, Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and Tasmania.
The precise nature of this proposition has not been specified. Steven Miles, environment minister, suggested that policy detail was lacking due to the desire of the incumbent Labor party to gain feedback from the public about a variety of proposals before committing to any one of these. Although detail was lacking, the Queensland government is keen to emphasise the role of a plastic bag ban in its view of the best approach to reducing the impact of plastic pollution within the state. The ban may only apply to certain forms of single-use bags, such as those purchased at the supermarket and not to other single-use plastic bags, such as bin liners. This may leave supermarkets open to sell thicker, plastic “bags for life” to consumers, for example.
Such bans on plastic bags are comparable to the introduction of a levy for plastic carrier bags which occurred in the UK from October 2015. This levy has had a huge impact on the use of plastic bags in the UK and it should not be assumed that a simple ban will have the same effect. Although the outcome for a consumer in a retail setting may be similar, such that if the consumer does not bring their own bag they may have to purchase one, consumer response to a “ban” may be different to that of a “levy”. Comparison of bag bans in Australia with the UK plastic bag levy would shed further light on this. Regardless, tackling carrier bag waste is a widely held objective which is easily digestible by consumers, retails and politician alike.