MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire Council will write to the Premier Daniel Andrews urging the state government to ban the distribution of single use plastic bags.
The council at last Tuesday’s (22 August) meeting voted to back the Environmental Protection Amendment (Banning Plastic Bags, Packaging and Microbeads) Bill (2016), or alternative legislation aimed at preventing the distribution of free single-use plastic bags.
The shire will also develop and implement a “community engagement campaign relating to the impact of plastic bags on the environment, waste and litter minimisation actions”, and “provide a platform for local, community-led plastic bag and litter reduction initiatives”.
A report by the shire’s climate change energy and water manager Jessica Wingad urged the council to endorse the Association of Bayside Municipalities’ policy to ban plastic bags.
“The association in May voted unanimously to support a campaign to ban single-use plastic bags in Victoria as part of [its] strategic objectives relating to advocacy and leadership,” the report stated.
The association wants formal endorsement from member councils on single use plastic bags as it believes the group can provide a powerful message to the state government and can “effectively communicate the importance of the policy position across the Port Phillip region”.
South Australia, Tasmania, Northern Territory, the ACT and Queensland have already banned distribution of single-use plastic bags.
“Nearly seven billion of the bags are used in Australia each year, with less than three per cent being recycled. Four thousand bags a minute are being thrown out, taking between 20 and 100 years to break down, and threatening the survival of marine wildlife as they mistake them for food,” Ms Wingad stated.
“Single-use plastic bags have a negative impact on the environment across their lifecycle which is only partly addressed through recycling. Reducing or eliminating single-use plastic bags would achieve additional environmental benefits.”
Local councils do not have the authority to stop plastic bags being handed out at supermarkets, so the association is urging the state government to take the lead, Ms Wingad said.
Woolworths and Coles have agreed to phase out single-use plastic bags ahead of the state government legislation.
Ms Wingad stated the association’s draft policy position provides a “strong foundation for collaborative action” on plastic bag reduction.
“This leadership position aligns with the [shire’s] Municipal Waste and Resource Recovery Strategy’s waste and litter minimisation objectives and reflects the shire’s capacity to advocate to the state government on behalf of our community.”
The mayor Cr Bev Colomb said protecting the environment and marine life was an important initiative for Mornington Peninsula Shire.
“We are privileged and appreciative to already have several community groups and local champions on the peninsula who continually support this resolution done through grassroots campaigns, including Plastic Bay Free Peninsula Group and Boomerang Bags Mornington Peninsula.”