Saturday, April 19, 2008

The plastic bag debate

State Environment Ministers met in Melbourne earlier this week to discuss, among other things, the phasing out of plastic shopping bags. This is a discussion that has apparently been happening for six years. It was a major topic at the meeting.

I would have thought it would be a two minute discussion.

“All those in favour of phasing out plastic bags by the end of the year? That's everyone? OK, next item of business.”
Why is this is such a difficult decision? In the world of politics there are often many shades of grey between the black and white solutions. Not this one though. Why are some Ministers considering levies and such? Retailers have enough demands on their time without having to keep track of plastic bag levies.

Sure there'd be a few cranky people for a few weeks. Change always creates a bit of angst. But no-one is going to suffer unnecessarily because they don't get a plastic bag at the supermarket any more. With an implementation period of 8 months as proposed by the Federal Environment Minister there is plenty of time for people to stock up on canvas bags or similar. At one a month (about $2 each) until the end of the year, no-one should be caught short.

I would be one of those that needs to change their habits. I try to use my green and red shopping bags, but regularly forget them. I'm sure it would only take having to carry an armload of things back to the car bagless a couple of times to establish the new habit.

It's not that hard Ministers. Ban plastic bags outright.

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