City of Melville to explore providing reusable shopping bags to residents

Residents could be provided with reusable shopping bags by the City of Melville to help them transition away from single-use plastic after a motion was put forward by councillor Tim Barling. Picture: Matt Jelonek
Residents could be provided with reusable shopping bags by the City of Melville to help them transition away from single-use plastic after a motion was put forward by councillor Tim Barling. Picture: Matt Jelonek

RESIDENTS could be provided with reusable shopping bags by the City of Melville to help them transition away from single-use plastic.

West Australian retailers will have to stop supply of lightweight single-use plastic bags to customers from July 1.

In a notice of motion put before Melville council on Tuesday evening, councillor Tim Barling asked the City to consider initiatives that would help residents shift away from single-use plastic.

Among his suggestions was the potential for the City to provide ratepayers with reusable shopping and produce bags.

Cr Barling also put forward the idea of the City providing extra assistance to community-run initiatives including Boomerang Bags, which are made using recycled materials and provide a free, sustainable alternative to the conventional plastic option.

“The banning of lightweight single-use plastic bags in WA by the State Government presents the City of Melville with a one-time opportunity to fill the need for reusable carrier bags by residents,” Cr Barling said in presenting the motion.

“If bags were to be provided by the City to residents not only can they be City-branded, they can also have printed information to aid in waste minimisation.”

Cr Barling’s motion, backed 10-2 by council, generated about half an hour of discussion.

Councillor Clive Robartson spoke against the motion, and said plastic bags were a part of everyday life “that we should be able to access as individuals”.

“I believe the government is only looking to ban these bags because it’s a warm and fuzzy; warm and fuzzy in that they think the majority of the voters will support it,” he said.

“But I think they might have a surprise coming.”

He said if the State Government wanted to implement change, it should also supply solutions to any issues.

His line of thinking was also supported by councillor Patricia Phelan.

“I think the best way we can deal with an excess of plastic is to look at consumerism and behaviour modification for a start,” she said.

“Education and behaviour modification is the way to go, not banning (plastic bags).”

Deputy Mayor Matt Woodall spoke in support of the motion and said he did not agree with the ban but that the proposal being debated was how the City could respond to it.

“I think we should consider steps we can take to assist residents, even just alerting them to the transition is something I think would be quite useful,” he said.

“That could be as simple as including a line on the rates notice advising people that is happening.

“I do have some concerns about the cost of providing reusable bags to residents but I think we may as well look into it and find out what those costs are.”

Guy Wieland said in support of the motion it was simply about asking City staff to put forward initiatives to consider.

“When they come back to us we can either vote for them or against them,” he said, adding that making even “one ounce of difference” was a bonus.

City staff will now consider initiatives the City may undertake to help residents move away from single-use plastic before a report is brought back before council.

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