Banning plastic bags What will be the alternative - lugging a big brown paper one home?
One of the dumbest new laws I've seen in a while comes into effect today.
South Australia will become the first state to ban checkout-style plastic bags from opening time today, welcomed by green groups as a boon for the environment.http://www.news.com.au/adelaidenow/story/0,27574,25423800-2682,00.html
Planet Ark spokeswoman Anne-Marie Byrne said other states should follow SA.
"It is estimated that 100,000 marine creatures die each year from plastic pollution," she said.
From a year ago:
Scientists trash plastic bag banhttp://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23347190-30417,00.html
March 10, 2008
SCIENTISTS and environmentalists have questioned the case against the use of plastic shopping bags as based on flawed science and misreporting.
And in a blow to Environment Minister Peter Garrett's plan to phase out plastic bags by January 1 next year, questions have also emerged over the accuracy of a claim in a report carried out for the Australian Government in 2002 which said plastic bags were responsible for the deaths of 100,000 animals a year.
The report, later amended but widely quoted by environmentalists, actually attributed the deaths to all plastic debris, including fishing nets and equipment.
The Times newspaper in Britain has quoted scientists, including an expert who advises environmental group Greenpeace, as saying plastic bags pose only a minimal threat to most marine species, including seals, whales, dolphins and seabirds.
In January, Mr Garrett said he wanted to phase out the use of supermarket plastic bags by the end of the year and was prepared to consider a ban if necessary.
And yesterday, while denying a report that he was considering a plan for customers to be charged $1 per bag, Mr Garrett said he remained committed to a phase out by January 1 and would meet state government counterparts next month to consider "a range of options" which did not include a levy on bag use.
The claim that the bags kill more than 100,000 marine mammals every year is based on a misinterpretation of a 1987 Canadian study in Newfoundland, which found that, between 1981 and 1984, more than 100,000 animals were killed by discarded nets. The Canadian study did not mention plastic bags.
However, in 2002, a report prepared for the Australian Government by Nolan-ITU in association with the RMIT Centre for Design and Eunomia Research and Consulting Ltd said the Newfoundland study attributed the deaths to "plastic bags".
But according to the Australian Government's Environment Department website, the report was amended in 2006.
The figure has often been used by conservationists as proof that the bags are killers.
But in Britain, scientists, politicians and marine experts have attacked the British Government for joining an anti-bag "bandwagon" based on poor science.
Lord Taverne, the chairman of Sense about Science, said: "The Government is irresponsible to jump on a bandwagon that has no base in scientific evidence.
"This is one of many examples where you get bad science leading to bad decisions which are counter-productive.
"Attacking plastic bags makes people feel good but it doesn't achieve anything."
David Laist, the author of a seminal 1997 study on the subject, said plastic bags did not figure in the majority of cases where animals died from marine debris.
"The main culprits are fishing gear, ropes, lines and strapping bands," he said. "Most mammals are too big to get caught up in a plastic bag."
David Santillo, a marine biologist at Greenpeace, told The Times that bad science was undermining the Government's case for banning the bags.
"It's very unlikely that many animals are killed by plastic bags," Dr Santillo said. "The evidence shows just the opposite. We're not going to solve the problem of waste by focusing on plastic bags. On a global basis plastic bags aren't an issue."