Australia moves closer to nationwide bag ban

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Photo by Queensland Parliamant

Another Australian state is legislating to ban plastic shopping bags.

The Queensland Government has introduced the Waste Reduction and Recycling Amendment Bill 2017 into parliament. It now will be considered by a government committee, which must report by Aug. 11. The bill will then be put before parliament for a vote and is likely to pass.

Queensland will be the fourth of Australia's seven states and territories to ban single-use polyethylene carry bags. The most populated states, New South Wales and Victoria, plus Western Australia, have not announced any plans to ban bags. But a public petition in favor of bag bans in those three states has 162,605 signatures.

The Queensland bill prohibits retailers from giving away bags with purchases, apart from thin film bags used to transport perishable foods. Queensland's bill also includes a beverage container refund program. The ban and container deposits would both start July 1, 2018.

A major Australian Senate report, delivered to the Federal Government in April 2016, recommended banning lightweight, single-use plastic bags in all states and territories by 2020.

Meanwhile, the island state of Tasmania is looking at amending its bag law, which has been in place since 2013. That law prohibits retailers from giving shoppers bags less than 35 microns thick. Tasmanian Environment Minister Matthew Groom has asked Tasmania's Environment Protection Authority to make recommendations on how to address a rise in use of thicker bags.

He said retailers are giving away thicker bags as a substitute for thinner, banned bags, which "is contrary to the intent of the legislation."

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