The Australian Labor Party has proposed a nationwide ban on single-use plastic bags to be implemented from 2021.
The move is part of a larger proposal to reduce waste and protect wildlife, which would see $290 million spent on recycling initiatives.
“Plastic has a devastating impact on our natural environment – more than a third of the world’s sea turtles were found to have plastic wastes in their stomachs, and it is estimated around 90 per cent of seabirds eat plastic waste,” Labor Party head Bill Shorten said in a statement on Monday.
Shorten noted that while many Australians do their duty in recycling, compositing and drinking out of reusable coffee cups, the Government needed to take a leading role to tackle some of the larger issues.
“We will consult with states, territories and industry on how best to do this, [creating] a consistent approach across the country,” Shorten said.
The National Retail Association manager of industry David Stout welcomed the proposal and said the NRA would be eager to work with a future government on a nationwide ban.
“Retailers are happy to support environmental measures such as plastic bag bans, so long as the laws are simple and there is plenty of lead time for the sector to prepare for the transition,” Stout said.
“It takes considerable time to educate both retailers and the public on the details of new laws, as well as for businesses to develop and implement new alternatives that are compliant.”
Stout believes the proposed start date of 2021 would provide ample time to create and conduct training workshops, information sessions and media campaigns ahead of the ban.
As Stout pointed out, all states and territories, barring New South Wales, already have or are enacting a local bag-ban – a nationwide law would ensure a consistent approach.