WITH the plastic bag ban almost upon us, let’s look at a few curly questions you might be pondering ahead of the big switch.
– What happens to the backlog of bags stores have? Are they going into landfill?
Woolworths and Coles spokespeople have said the companies have been managing their inventory to reduce stock, and will be recycling bags into sustainable products and via the REDcycle program respectively.
A Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) spokeswoman said some shops have already removed the bags, while others are assessing whether they need to provide alternatives or offer bags at all.
– Who gets fined for stocking them? What happens to small businesses?
Supply of a banned lightweight bag will be an offence from January 1, 2019, with a penalty of $5000.
From July 1, it is an offence for a supplier or manufacturer to provide false or misleading information about bags.
The fines apply equally to all retailers.
– What is the expected environmental impact of the ban?
A DWER spokeswoman said over 670 million lightweight plastic bags were used in WA in 2017, with around seven million littered. The ban will reduce these figures and stop bags endangering wildlife and breaking up into small fragments, where they can be ingested by marine and land animals and enter the human food chain.
– What are the best options for reusable bags?
Waste consultant and sustainability educator Lindsay Miles suggests recycled PET bags are best from a carbon footprint perspective.
Put bags in strategic locations, or put a note on your door or in your wallet as a reminder to use them.