On the evening of Tuesday September 5 Queensland Parliament passed new laws effective as of July 2018, banning single-use lightweight plastic shopping bags, including degradable and biodegradable bags. Currently an estimated one billion lightweight plastic shopping bags are used in Queensland each year, which can take up to 1000 years to fully decompose. Ahead of the bill being passed, a number of retailers (including Coles and Woolworths) have already announced they would be proactively phasing out the supply of plastic bags, and retailers who fail to comply with the ban will face up to $3000 in fines.
In addition to the ban, the government announced a recyclable-refund scheme to be introduced at the same time. Similar to schemes that have operated in South Australia and the Northern Territory for many years, a ten-cent refund will be offered at designated container refund points and reverse vending machines for most recyclable drink containers between 150 ml and 3 L. Containers that are usually used at home (and hence not ending up a litter) will be exempt from the scheme, including those for wine, milk and some juices. New South Wales is due to roll out a similar initiative later this year.
According to ABC News, Queensland Conservation Council’s Dr Tim Seelig has heralded the bill as a breakthrough moment for the state, hoping that the legislation will be the beginning of a much bigger conversation on how much we need to use plastics every day.