Waste plastics found in turtles may have led to probe into plastic shopping bags ban

Plastic waste found in the stomachs of sea turtles may have  helped support an investigation into a ban on plastic shopping bags.
Plastic waste found in the stomachs of sea turtles may have helped support an investigation into a ban on plastic shopping bags.

A PLEA to help sea turtles that eat waste plastic may have helped push Cottesloe Council to separately support a State Government investigation into banning plastic shopping bags.

“The turtle was filled up like a sieve with bits of fishing line, rope and other plastics, and it was terrible,” Murdoch University sea turtle researcher Erin Young told councillors last Tuesday.

Dr Young had jars of pollution taken from the stomach of a turtle found south of Rockingham. Balloons released at beaches by partygoers and fishers at sea were also found in the stomach of turtles who mistook deflated balloons for edible jellyfish.

Cr Katrina Downes’ late motion supporting investigating a State-wide shopping bag ban was partially inspired by the environmentalist’s opposition to the balloons.

“It’s something that we’ve been talking about, and with the council’s discussion on the balloon ban and marine plastic it’s been brought to the forefront of our attention,” Cr Downes said.

It was appropriate the council now indicate support for an investigation by the new WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson into banning single-use shopping bags, she said.

Premier Mark McGowan has said councils should consider the bans, but Cottesloe has been shy of the idea after the previous government over-ruled attempts by Fremantle Council to ban the bags, and because there are only two large supermarkets in the town.

“It’s difficult for us to implement a ban as a local law, and I think the State Government needs encouragement,” Mayor Jo Dawkins said.

However, she backed Cr Downes’ motion, which also supported the Government exploring a deposit scheme for drink containers.

Separately, councillors agreed to seek public comment for 42 days on a new local law that would ban smoking and the release of gas-filled party balloons at beaches and adjacent reserves.

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