Man carrying something in the plastic bag

From July 1st 2018, the Queensland Government will begin enforcing a newly-passed amendment bill that calls for the ban of plastic bags. The ban will forbid retailers from selling lightweight shopping bags in a movement that will hopefully reduce the risk that plastic bags pose towards Queensland’s marine ecosystems.

The regulation will apply to all retailers such as supermarkets and pharmacies and includes ‘bio-degradable’ plastic bags. All lightweight plastic bags that are less than 35 microns thick, even if they are supposedly compostable, will be banned from being distributed by all retail stores. If any stores are found not to be complying with the ban, they could be facing a fine of up to $6,300.

The introduction of the ban follows the worldwide call for action against the use of plastic bags being distributed by shopping retailers. In 2015, the Queensland Government held a workshop for retail representatives to provide feedback on how communities can improve the use of plastic bags and mitigate the risks they pose. The responses to the workshop found that retailers would prefer a ban on plastic bags than a purchase fee to be followed by all retail outlets.

In a follow-up to the workshop, a public discussion paper was released in 2016 and received a total amount of over 26,000 submissions, 96% of which stated that they were in favor of action to be taken against the use of plastic bags throughout the retail industry.

The reason for the ban comes after research studies revealed that the Great Barrier Reef is largely being affected by litter pollution. On average, 900 million plastic bags are used in Queensland every year, with approximately 50-million being littered. In turn, this has caused plastic bags to become the second largest threat to marine wildlife.

Without the introduction of the ban on plastic bags, our work industries would be substantially affected and the health of Queensland’s ecosystems would further decline as more litter is produced.