City of Joondalup to consider plastic bag ban

Stock image.
Stock image.

THE City of Joondalup may become a plastic bag-free City.

At last month’s council meeting, Mayor Troy Pickard asked for a report on the possibility of a local law that would ban retailers from providing single-use plastic shopping bags to customers.

This would mean only biodegradable bags could be used in the district.

“This reflects the broad sentiment of the community that the use of plastic bags, particularly those that are not biodegradable, are not good for our environment,” Mr Pickard said.

He commended the City of Fremantle for “leading the charge a number of years ago”.

“They unsuccessfully presented a local law on two instances (2013 and 2015) to the delegate legislative committee and received political hurdles to their attempt to introduce a plastic bag reduction local law,” he said.

“I’ve been in contact with Mayor Brad Pettitt and will be working hand-in-glove with Fremantle to present the same local law to the delegated legislative committee.

“I hope with a new government they will embrace our initiative to drive change in the community and drive change in the business sector to eventually eradicate non-biodegradable plastic bags in WA.”

In his report to the council, Mr Pickard said research published by the CSIRO in 2014 had found about 75 per cent of rubbish along the coastline was plastic.

“The density of plastic ranges from a few thousand pieces of plastic per square kilometre to more than 40,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometre,” he said.

“Debris is more highly concentrated around major cities.

“Although as much as two-thirds of plastic bags are reused once or twice prior to disposal (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2012), very few are recycled and some become litter.

“The information gathered by Clean Up Australia through its annual clean-up days suggests between 30 to 50 million plastic bags could be entering the Australian environment as litter every year.

“Aside from the obvious impact this has on animals when they become entangled or ingest it, littered plastic bags are contributing to the accumulation of micro-plastics in the environment as they break down into smaller pieces.”

Cr Mike Norman said he was “very much in support” of the motion and it would “really complement” the State Government’s container deposit scheme to be introduced next year.

“I think the use of plastic bags is really just habit,” he said.

“Once the availability of plastic bags is removed, the world-wide experience is people rapidly move to the alternatives and within a few months it’s not given a second thought.”

He suggested an alternative would be to use paper bags where customers can “not only take their goods home but also can put their scraps in the bin in the paper bag and that paper bag can then be composted”.

Fremantle MLA Simone McGurk said last week the new State Government would not stand in the way of a local government ban on plastic bags.

The statement came after Town of East Fremantle councillors voted to go ahead with drafting a local law banning single-use plastic bags.

In November, the City of Bayswater voted to support a state-wide ban on plastic bags, rather than a local law to ban the bags just within the City’s boundaries.