Australia’s War on Plastic Bags

September 12, 2017

Did you know that on average, each Australian uses 200 plastic bags a year, with 10 million bags being used across Australia each day? Over the course of the year, we go through a staggering 3.92 billion bags, and only 3 per cent of these are actually recycled.

the plastic bag issue in Australia 

Why Should You Care?

On land, plastic bag litter is responsible for blocking drains, trapping birds and killing livestock. For instance, in New South Wales a farmer conducted an autopsy on one of his dead calfs, where he found eight plastic bags!

The annual cost of cleaning up littered plastic bags is also estimated to cost the Government, businesses and community groups over $4 million.

In the ocean, plastic shopping bags are responsible for killing tens of thousands of birds, whales, seals and turtles every year, as they often mistake the bags for jellyfish. However, even after an animal is killed from consuming the bags that have been littered on beaches and in the ocean, their body decomposes and the plastic is released back into the marine environment where it then poses a threat to other marine life.

Plus, the amount of gas, oil, and coal that’s required to produce plastic bags is adding to our already dangerously high levels of greenhouse gas emissions.

What Can You Do to Help Reduce Australia’s Plastic Bag Problem?

Over the next 12 months, Coles and Woolworths will be phasing out their use of single-use plastic bags, which is expected to reduce the amount of plastic bags in circulation by as many as seven billion per year.

These changes will take place in Victoria, and New South Wales, as action has already been taken in Australia’s other states and territories. In Western Australia, as of mid-2018, supermarkets will be barred from supplying single-use plastic bags, so any shoppers will have to either bring their own or purchase reusable ones.

Moving a little closer to home, there’s also a lot you can do at a personal level to help decrease the amount of plastic bags ending up in landfill each year. This includes:

  • Using plastic bag alternatives, such as green bags, calico bags, paper bags or even boxes
  • Reuse any plastics bags you have as many times as you possibly can
  • If your bags can’t be reused, or if you simply have too many lying around the house, you can take your old grocery bags to a participating retailer to be recycled. For a location near you go to recyclingnearyou.com.au
  • When throwing out old plastic bags, make sure they go safely in the bin and don’t end up littered in the street where they can end up in storage drains and eventually the ocean

For more information on recycling in Perth or for assistance with commercial rubbish removal or residential skip bins, contact the team at Perth Bin Hire. We work hard to ensure we’re constantly maintaining high waste management standards and that all the waste we deal with ends up in the right place.