User:Miropolitan/Thin non-biodegradable plastic shopping bags banned in South Australia

Here is a copy of the news article I wrote on May 4, 2009, then rewrote over subsequent days in answer to criticism. This is my last (May 11) version. --Miropolitan (talk) 22 May 2009 (UTC)

Thin non-biodegradable plastic shopping bags banned in South Australia edit

Monday, May 4, 2009

Supermarket checkout in South Australia on last day before thin non-biodegradable shopping bag ban; shows reusable bags already popular

Bag ban

Thin non-biodegradable plastic shopping bags have been prohibited in South Australia from 4 May 2009 due to environment and waste management concerns. A range of alternative bags will be available for shoppers, including thin plastic "barrier bags" and thicker, woven-plastic carry bags.

Retailers not complying with the ban will face on-the-spot fines of $315 and a maximum penalty of $5000. Suppliers could face fines of up to $20,000.

Which bags are banned exactly?

"The ban will prohibit retailers from selling or giving away plastic bags with handles made of polyethylene polymer less than 35 microns thick," says Zero Waste SA, the government agency tasked with ushering in the ban.

Lightweight plastic bags marked "degradable" have also been banned because "degradable plastics merely break down into smaller and smaller flakes which remain as damaging waste for many years," says Zero Waste SA.


Reasons to ban thin plastic shopping bags include the following:

  • Thin plastic shopping bags, typically used once and then thrown away, consume resources and add to the waste stream.
  • Many such bags find their way to the sea where they endanger wildlife which mistake them for food.
  • Such bags can be easily replaced by heavier, woven-plastic bags which can be reused many times.
  • The extra thought required with reusable woven-plastic shopping bags (buying them; remembering to bring them) may also encourage customers to consider other ways of reducing waste.

Which shopping bags are still available in South Australia?

Shopping bags that have not been banned include:

  • Biodegradable (compostable) plastic shopping bags (meeting Australian Standard AS 4736-2006), available for (AU) 25c.
  • Reusable shopping bags made from woven plastic, available for (AU) $1.00.
  • Shopping bags made from paper.
  • The larger, stronger plastic bags used to wrap purchases from clothing and department stores.

Other plastic bags still available include:

  • Smaller, thin, handle-less, transparent plastic bags, called "barrier bags", used to contain loose, unpackaged goods such as fruit and vegetables.
  • Thick, garbage-bin-sized plastic bags, called "bin-liners".

In addition, supermarket customers will still be able to fill large shopping trolleys, transfer their shopping to their car parked in an adjacent, free-to-use car park, and drive (as against bus, cycle, or walk) their shopping home.

Consequences for supermarkets

Banning the bags will result in an abrupt change in the practice of many supermarkets and other stores in South Australia. Previously, check-out staff in many (but not all) supermarkets would automatically fill new plastic bags with a customer's purchases unless the customer asked them not to. (Customers were typically not charged for the bags; the cost - $10 to 15 per year per average household, according to Zero Waste SA - was passed on through higher prices on bought goods.) Under the new regime, while supermarket check-out staff may continue to fill a customer's bags for them, the customer will have to supply or purchase the bag. This will interrupt the smooth flow of customer throughput. On the other hand, it will create an opportunity to rehumanise the contact between customer and staff.

Sources edit

External links edit

  • Byobags - Dedicated website to inform customers and retailers about the ban

See also Wikipedia edit