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CHINA’S BAN ON PLASTIC BAGS HIGHLIGHTS DAMAGE OF DELAYS IN AUSTRALIA

China’s ban on plastic bags highlights damage of delays in Australia

Media Release 4 June 2008 - China's decision to ban plastic bags has caused further embarrassment for Australia, which continues to delay a final decision to ban them despite evidence a levy does not work in the long run, Clean Up Australia said today.

Three years of delays in taking action on plastic bags has resulted in almost 11.5 billion more being used in Australia and either ending up in landfill or dumped in the environment, Clean Up Australia Chairman Ian Kiernan AO said today.

"Delays in introducing a ban on plastic shopping bags are costing our environment dearly. An estimated 3.75 billion are being handed out each year in Australia. A large proportion of these end up in either landfill or choking our waterways and marine life," Mr Kiernan said.

A Code of Practice for retailers that involved a voluntary agreement to reduce the numbers of plastic bags handed out at checkouts achieved over 40% cut by large supermarkets by the end of 2005.

"It is environmentally negligent to allow this to continue. Only a ban on plastic bags will prevent further damage to Australia's environment."

Mr Kiernan said it is alarming how many plastic bags still end up in landfill sites.

"We know that only 3 per cent of plastic bags are recycled, leaving 90 per cent of the population reusing plastic bags, which still means they end up in the environment. That's more than 20,000 tonnes of plastic every year.

"There is a simple solution, stop using them altogether. Communities across Australia have already taken the lead by banning plastic bags in their own towns and suburbs," Mr Kiernan said.

In a national Newspoll survey conducted by Clean Up Australia in 2006, 84% of respondents supported a ban on plastic bags to help reduce landfill, damage to marine life and greenhouse pollution.

"San Francisco recently became the first US city to ban plastic bags." Noted Mr Kiernan, " Now many other countries and cities across North America are looking to follow suit. Over 40 countries around the world are currently taking action to get rid of plastic bags."

Further information: Alana Mew, 0423 377 567

Click here to read more about the Clean Up Australia Say NO To Plastic Bags campaign.

 
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