Retailers help prepare Queenslanders for life without plastic bags

The retail sector will work with the Palaszczuk Government to help prepare Queenslanders for life without single-use, plastic shopping bags from mid-2018.

Environment Minister Steven Miles said the National Retail Association will launch an awareness campaign to inform retailers of the impending changes.

“Around 900 million single-use, lightweight plastic shopping bags are used each year and up to 16 million bags are thrown away, ending up in our waterways, beaches and parks,” Mr Miles said.

“Shopping bag litter is an eyesore, and these bags can take thousands of years to fully break down.

“One of our election commitments was to investigate initiatives to address the litter problem and specifically, this conspicuous plastic pollution.

“The National Retail Association will run workshops for retailers all over the state, to help the sector understand the ban and what they need to do – as well as how to talk to shoppers about the ban and the reasons for the change. There will also be a website with information that shops and stores need in order to prepare for the ban, including the alternatives to plastic bags.”

Mr Miles said partnering with peak bodies such as the Association ensured that retailers’ views and questions were represented and that information could be provided well in advance of the start date for the ban.

“We understand that retailers, and the community, will need some time to adjust to the ban,” Mr Miles said.

“Whilst the legislation will be introduced mid-2017, the ban won’t commence until 1 July 2018.

“The laws we’re proposing are very similar to those in South Australia, the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania, and it also has bipartisan support in the Parliament.

“We know people want them gone. The recent discussion paper on plastic bags received more than 26,000 submissions, with more than 96 per cent of these supporting the ban.

“While the current proposal is to ban only the light-weight plastic shopping bags, we also intend to work with the department store retail sector on voluntary arrangements to reduce the use of these thicker, heavier single-use plastic bags.”

The plastic bag ban will coincide with the introduction of the Government’s Container Refund Scheme to reduce the impact of drink container litter on Queensland’s environment