Ban The Bag Port Macquarie instigators Linda Perkins and Maria Doherty say it’s a ‘no-brainer’ that NSW should follow the lead of other states and territories in banning single-use plastic bags.
Western Australia is the latest state in joining Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania, along with the Northern Territory and the ACT, to phase out the bags.
Greens NSW spokesperson Justin Field says NSW is now playing catch up on taking the action needed to stop plastic pollution.
“Every year in NSW thousands of marine animals are injured and killed by plastic pollution in our oceans. There is one way to fix it - it's time to put an end to single use plastics,” Mr Field said.
“NSW is falling behind the rest of the country and the rest of the world when it comes to reducing litter and protecting our marine life.”
Australians use up to an estimated four billion light-weight plastic bags a year.
Ms Doherty said the local initiative is in the process of contacting similarly-minded community groups in local government areas across the state.
“There is momentum there and it is continuing,” she said.
“This is a state-wide issue and we need to come together as one group. There are similar groups in Ballina and Coffs Harbour and we will contact them to start networking outwards.
“Our focus will shift toward connecting across the state while maintaining focus on what we can do locally.”
Ms Perkins said the Port Macquarie initiative had gained tremendous local support but, importantly, had also effected real change in people’s lives.
In Queensland it received bi-partisan support. It is a no-brainer.
“Port Macquarie Ban The Bag became a tipping point for people changing their behaviour and we have had residents coming up to us and telling us that they have moved away from plastic bag use,” she said.
“I was certainly inspired to get involved in this because of the issue being raised on The Project and the War On Waste series.
“There is a groundswell of support, there is no question about that.”
Ms Perkins said it was fantastic that other state governments and territories had introduced legislation covering single-use plastic bag use.
“In Queensland it received bi-partisan support. It is a no-brainer,” she added.
The duo said some 140 Port Macquarie-Hastings businesses had offered their support to the initiative and some had changed their policy on plastic bag use.
At the local level, shoppers can simply decline using a single-use plastic bag at the point of sale and talk to the business operator about their policy. Ms Perkins said businesses can also join the conversation with customers about plastic bag use.
“We can all make a difference. You just need to change your habits at the point of sale,” she said.
Ms Doherty said the group would continue to focus on education-based change.
“And kids are a great influencer on family life. If you can get children involved in this process we will be able to drive this project further along the path to eventual effective legislation,” she said.
The duo will shortly launch a petition that requires 10,000 signatures before it can be presented in state parliament via Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams.
For the latest information and hints on changing your plastic bag use, go to Ban the Bag Port Macquarie on Facebook.