Ballarat Council will face a renewed push to back a plastic bag ban following the announcement by supermarket giants Woolworths and Coles that they will phase out single use plastic bags in the next 12 months.
“It’s disappointing that you’ve got big corporations leading on this and the state government is still dragging their feet,” said Ballarat councillor Belinda Coates.
In May, Ballarat Council rejected a notice of motion that Cr Coates had presented that proposed writing to the state government expressing council’s support for single-use plastic bags.
Following the Woolworths and Coles announcements, which came within hours of each other last week, Cr Coates vowed to bring before council a motion to enact a CBD ban on plastic bags, building on an existing resolution to work with retailers.
“We have a current resolution in place that was adopted late in 2014 which actually commits us. It already acknowledges the environmental harm associated with single use plastic and commits us to engage with stakeholders in the CBD and work with retailers and other businesses,” she said.
“It’s a positive thing that Woolworths and Coles have taken that step … and I will push hard for the existing resolution to be enacted.”
More than four billion plastic bags end up in landfill in Australia every year, with 150 million entering the waterways.
Woolworths has vowed to phase out single-use, light-weight plastic bags at the group's supermarkets, Big W and BWS stores within 12 months, saving about 3.2 billion bags a year. Coles followed, but refused to reveal how many bags its stores use each year.
Grampians Central West Waste and Resource Recovery Group acting chief executive La Vergne Lehmann said news of the plastic bag phase-out would start changing consumer behaviour, but did not go far enough.
“They are not getting rid of plastic completely, but you have to commend them for seeing the writing on the wall seeing as most states have already started going down this path.”
She said other soft plastics, such as those used in the fruit and vegetable departments and in packaging, would remain a problem.
“Consumers will get used to it. We’ve been through change before with seat belt laws, smoking laws, and there will be those who grumble but people will get used to it.”