Plastic bag litter in Queensland has seen at least a 70 per cent drop since the bag ban was introduced last July, with around 900 million single-use plastic bags eliminated entirely over the last year.
One store alone, IGA in Springfield, removed around 364,000 single-use bags from circulation since the ban came into effect, translating to roughly 7000 per week.
Queensland Environment Minister Leeanne Enoch said the impact of the bag ban has been a dramatic positive for the environment.
“Before the ban was introduced last year, up to sixteen million single use plastic shopping bags ended up in our environment every year. “These have significant impacts on our environment, waterways and species. But now, thanks to our ban on single-use lightweight plastic bags, we are seeing an incredible drop,” she said.
“Each bag that is taken out of circulation is one less bag that can end up in the environment or wasted in landfill.”
David Stout of the National Retail Association, says the elimination of 900 million single-use plastic bags in Queensland over the past 12 months highlights the importance of collaboration between government, industry and consumers, particularly as the change waswhat he said was a “daunting” one for many small businesses.
“On top of this, we have seen a dramatic reduction in other types of bags being consumed. People are remembering their own bags and, even when they do forget, they are choosing to go without a bag, or purchasing as few reusable bags as possible.
“The decision to transition away from lightweight plastic shopping bags has been, without question, one of the most significant changes to the retail sector in a generation, as shoppers had grown accustomed to receiving a free plastic bag,” he said.
Queensland’s war on waste is not stopping with bags – a new waste disposal levy came into effect at the start of this month, with the aim of diverting more waste from landfill. According to Enoch, more than two thirds of Queenslanders are already trying to minimise the amount of rubbish they send to the tip.
“The waste levy will help to grow the recycling and resource recovery sector – creating jobs – while reducing the amount of waste ending up in landfill.
“There are more jobs in recycling than landfill, so this is a clear economic opportunity for Queensland,” she said.