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These are some of the more Frequently Asked Questions about plastic bags.

What is happening around the World?

There are now many countries around the world taking action on plastic bags.
Clean Up Australia has put together a summary of the countries taking action including Clean Up the World Activities.

More towns, cities and countries are taking action every day.

You can see out latest Report on global initiatives here

What can I use to line my bin?

Here are a few options for bin liners: Don't line your bin at all. Put your rubbish straight into your household bin and transfer this to your larger Council or Otto bin. Check with your Council first as some require rubbish be sealed. Give the bin a quick rinse afterwards and reuse the water on your garden. It's important to recycle as many of your old newspapers as possible. However, keep a few sheets aside each week to wrap your rubbish or line your bin. This helps minimise mess and is a good alternative to plastic liners.

The key is reducing wet waste and food scraps - which is where a composting unit is a great solution. Have a look at the options available via Compost Revolution

If you feel you simply can't separate your rubbish sufficiently to avoid bin liners you might like to consider biobags

How can I help reduce the number of plastic bags used?

In addition to saying NO to plastic bags at supermarkets, you can help reduce plastic bags at convenience stores and take away food shops. These retailers account for 47% of single use plastic shopping bags. You can help in the following ways:
1. Keep a reusable bag in your car or handbag to use for unexpected purchases
2. Don't accept a plastic bag from a take away store if you are eating the food in the shop or close by.
3. If you have placed a big order at a take away store, ask for the food to be packed in a cardboard box that can later be recycled.

Where can I recycle my plastic bags?

Singlet-style supermarket plastic bags can be returned to your supermarket for recycling.

Most larger supermarkets have recycling facilities available. If you can't find the recycling bin at your supermarket, suggest to the store manager that it's put in a more prominent place. If you are unable to find recycling facilities near you contact your local council to see if they have any drop-off points in your area. Remember to turn bags inside out and remove any receipts and food scraps before recycling. Contamination can cause problems in production and prevent recycled plastic from being used.

What happens to recycled plastic bags?

Plastic bags are recycled in a mixed plastics process to make garden stakes, garden furniture, garden sleepers, flower pots and new plastic bags.

Should I use biodegradable plastic bags?

When you start thinking about which plastic bag alternative to use, you might notice there are a variety of 'degradable' and 'biodegradable' bags on the market.

Biodegradable plastic bags are often made from farmed products like cornstarch, which, in the right conditions, will break down into elements like carbon dioxide, water and methane. Biodegradable bags are generally best suited to composting and may contribute to methane emissions if sent to landfill. To meet international standards, bags need to compost within 12 weeks and fully biodegrade within 6 months. Biodegradable bags are not suited to recycling.

Other degradable plastic bags break down primarily through the reaction of a chemical additive to oxygen, light or heat and are also known as 'oxodegradable' bags. Best suited to landfill disposal, they are also likely to survive long enough to present a threat to animals if littered. As it may take time for them to break down and even when they do, it is into smaller pieces which may pose a threat to animals who mistake the pieces for food.

It's important for Shoppers and Retailers to understand the difference between these bags and the impact they can have on the environment. Replacement of normal plastic with degradable and biodegradable bags is not encouraged by governments as part of the planned phase-out, as neither is a solution to plastic bag litter.

Standards Australia has developed Australian Standards for biodegradable plastics. As these standards are implemented over the coming years, shoppers and retailers will be able to distinguish which bags meet the standards. Meanwhile, ask your supplier some detailed questions to make sure you get what you want:

What are the bags made from and how do they degrade?
How long will the bags take to break down in their intended disposal environment?
Will customers know how to dispose of them e.g. are they clearly labelled as compostable or landfill compatible?
Can the supplier provide you with data from any testing completed to back-up their claims about degradability? For example, does the product pass relevant international Standards, such as the European composting/biodegradability standard known as EN 13432.

Where can I recycle my 'green' reusable bags?

'Green' (polypropylene) bags can be recycled at your local Coles and Woolworths/Safeway stores. Make sure the bag is free of receipts and food scraps and simply place it in the plastic bag recycling bin at the front of the store.

What can I use to collect dog poo when walking my dog?

We all know how important it is to clean up after our pets. Here are a few ways to do this without using of plastic bags: * Use a recycled paper bag * Wrap it up in old newspaper * Check your local pet shop for other alternatives - There are biodegradable dog poo bags available for sale on the internet. Also, some progressive councils now provide biodegradable dog poo bags at popular dog parks and beaches.

How can I reduce the harm plastic bags can cause?

Refuse, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle plastic bags whenever possible. If you throw plastic bags away, tie them in a knot. This limits the chance that they'll blow out of a bin or blow away in landfills.