Specialising in the human experience of Living with prostate cancer – warts and all

The last place on earth with free plastic bags

with 6 comments

bShopping bags now attract a 10 cent surcharge at Safeway, Coles and IGA supermarkets in Wangaratta/b

Shopping bags now attract a 10 cent surcharge at Safeway, Coles and IGA supermarkets in Wangaratta

With the plastic bag surcharge coming into effect today at Wangaratta’s three major supermarkets, I hit the Addictomatic Search engine and Cuil to see how the rest of the world has approached this problem.

It all began in 2002 when Ireland slapped a 33-cent tax on plastic shopping bags. The New York Times reported that plastic bag use there dropped 94 percent within weeks.

Paris banned them in 2007, and the rest of France will follow by 2010. Starting in June 2008, it will be illegal for merchants in China to offer free plastic bags, and only bags thicker than .025 mm will be sold.

China consumes 37m barrels of  crude oil each year to churn out the 3 billion plastic bags that its 1.3bn people use on average each day, according to official figures.

South African pundits called plastic bags “the national flower” until measures were taken to curtail them five years ago.

In March 2007, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to ban plastic bags outright. Most recently, on April 3, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels proposed a 20-cent “green fee” for every plastic and paper bag used to carry goods from grocery, drug or convenience stores, citing Ireland’s successful tax as a model.

It seems we are just about the last country on earth to look at this problem with a three town trial over four weeks to see if it is a good idea.  Well, I guess they have to start somewhere!


Written by Greg Naylor

18 August 2008 at 12:00 am

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  1. Plastic bag levy trial a success
    * August 18, 2008 – 4:56PM

    The first day of the trial of a 10-cent levy on plastic bags in regional Victoria has been a success, with a reduction in disposable bag usage and an overall positive reaction from consumers.

    Steve Condon, owner of the Supa IGA in Wangaratta, said “We had to pick a figure when we were setting this up and we estimated about 50% (reduction),” “We’re looking at a 75 to 80% reduction just based on what we’ve seen today. “We haven’t even used 50 bags.

    Greg Naylor

    18 August 2008 at 10:25 pm

  2. ah yes, the days of free bin liners appear to be over, good thing too I guess, those bags cause a lot of damage.
    It’s already motivated me to store a stash of re-usable supermarket bags in the boot of the car, I’m sure other people will be doing the same.

    Plastic bags can be re-used in productive ways but the truth is most of them just end up as land fill -or worse- in our oceans.
    Overall it’s a good thing to see the back of them.


    19 August 2008 at 3:31 pm

  3. Who are these idiots who throw plastic bags around so that they end up in the rivers and the ocean? This is typical of our ‘let’s swat a fly with a baseball bat’ wrong approach to a simple policing problem. Littering is illegal, so why don’t the police police it? Amd why aren’t our littering laws stronger? I bet Singapore doesn’t ban plastic bags – no need to because if you throw one in the gutter over there … you go to jail.

    (I stand to be corrected on Singapore’s position on plastic bags, of course)


    19 August 2008 at 3:48 pm

  4. Ray, you will be interested to know that Singapore is the world’s leading supplier of plastic bags.

    In fact the Singapore National Environment Agency (NEA) notes, ‘plastic bags do not pose a threat to the environment in Singapore’. Still, it says, it is wasteful to use plastic bags excessively.

    The best Singapore can do is to have supermarkets in Singapore asking you to ‘donate’ 10 cents for every plastic bag you use when shopping on the first Wednesday of every month.

    Greg Naylor

    19 August 2008 at 5:00 pm

  5. My point exactly then, Greg. Singapore is the world’s biggest supplier of pbs yet it doesn’t have a litter problem … because it has strong litter laws that are enforced. Maybe that’s what we should do – think of the extra revenue raised from fining litterbugs $500 – $1,000 per ‘drop’!


    20 August 2008 at 1:34 am

  6. Off topic, but I notice there’s no comments button on your abortion post, Greg. Not that I’d want to comment on it, I think it’s a topic that tends to get some pretty extreme and emotional responses and, as a male, I think it’s best to remain neutral.


    21 August 2008 at 11:32 am

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