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The Andrews Government has introduced legislation to ban lightweight, single-use plastic bags in Victoria from 1 November.

When Victoria’s ban comes into effect in November, New South Wales will be the only Australian state or territory still permitting lightweight single-use plastic bags.

Single-use plastic shopping bags with a thickness of 35 microns or less, including degradable, biodegradable, and compostable bags, will be banned from retail outlets including supermarkets, fashion boutiques, fast food outlets, convenience stores, and service stations.

According to Lily D’Ambrosio, Victorian environment minister, the ban is a vital step to protect the state’s wildlife, waterways, and oceans from plastic pollution.

“Plastic pollution is a significant environmental problem – the actions we take now will help ensure Victoria has a clean and bright future,” she said.

The move follows community consultation during which feedback from Victorian consumers was clear on the ban, said D’Ambrosio.

“Victorians want to do more to protect the environment from the damage litter causes and are overwhelmingly supportive of banning single-use plastic shopping bags,” she said.

The Andrews Government is working with the National Retailers Association (NRA) to smooth the transition, according to D’Ambrosio, who adds that plans to reduce other forms of plastic waste are also on the cards.

“We’ve been working closely with businesses to plan for the ban ahead of November and we’ll continue to look at ways we can reduce other types of plastic pollution across Victoria,” she said.

David Stout, manager of industry policy at the NRA, said in February that the Association was prepared to work with Victoria on implementing the ban.

“The removal of lightweight plastic shopping bags is one of the biggest reforms to happen in the retail sector in a generation and it’s important that it is done right. It’s a major behavioural change for shoppers, and retailers need to be adequately prepared for the reform,” he said.

Stout noted the success in other states and territories, particularly Queensland, which implemented its ban last year, as evidence that Victorians would easily take to the new regime.

“The majority of shoppers have adjusted extremely well to bringing their own bags, and are not replacing like-for-like with compliant bags, so much so that retailers are reporting up to ninety per cent drop in total bag consumption,” he said.

 

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