by Lois Levy
The Bag Free February campaign was launched by Queensland Conservation Council late with Ian Kiernan
speaking at a function in late 2012. Ian is the founder of CleanUp Australia and despite the success of that campaign the number of plastic items including plastic bags that end up in our waterways, bushland and ocean continues to rise.
We are all asked to stop using single use plastic bags in February and remember to take our own reusable bags. This is easy enough to do if you just keep them in the car and return them there after unpacking the shopping. Compostable bags that meet the Australian standard (AS4736) are the only plastic bag you should consider using if you really have to.
Many people think they can’t live without plastic bags and forget that they did not exist several decades ago. Garbage was wrapped in layers of newspaper and everyone had string bags, strong paper bags, boxes or a shopping trolley. It is surprising how easy it is to do without them once a start is made.
Plastic bags drift all over our country, entangling wildlife, 10% of the 80% of plastic rubbish in the oceans are plastic bags floating along and deceiving turtles into thinking they are jelly fish to eat, “decorating” trees, and fences, accumulating in our waste tips and breaking down into ever smaller pieces to add to the plastic soup in our oceans.
A single use plastic bag is used on average for 12 minutes and Australians use 7 million bags every year, while worldwide one trillion bags are used and discarded every year. Australians dump 7,150 bags every minute i.e. 429,000 every hour.
It costs the community $4 million per year to clean up the plastic bag litter.
South Australia and Northern Territory have both banned plastic bags as have several retail companies or they charge a small fee for a plastic bag. Around the world, countries including Bangladesh, Nepal, China, South Africa, Botswana, Eritrea, Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Somaliland, Tanzania, and United Arab Emirates ban plastic bags. Many European countries charge a tax on plastic bags, including Ireland, France, Germany, Belgium, Denmark, Macedonia, and Italy.
The aim of this campaign is to have Queensland plastic bag free by 2015. It is hard not to shudder at the sight of a shopping trolley filled with twenty or thirty plastic bags.
Since April 2003, all retail outlets in Coles Bay, Tasmania have banned plastic bags. That includes both supermarkets. Coles Bay is Australia’s first plastic bag free town. In its first 12 months, the ban stopped the use of 350,000 plastic check-out bags. The campaign was initiated by a single concerned resident, the local baker. “Our customers and our staff love us not using plastic bags any more.” said Ben Kearney.
You can access resources for a Bag free February in your community through the QCC website
and campaign’s website
, where you can also pledge your support for the campaign
You can like Plastic Bag Free Qld on Facebook
, and take part in the online BAG FREE FEBRUARY Facebook event
For more information about the campaign, please contact Caroline Gardam, Campaign Coordinator on 07 3846 7833 or via email