The Argument Against Plastic Bags

At least 80 million plastic bags end up as litter on our beaches, streets and parks each year.
• While only 2% of the litter stream they can take up to 1000 years to break down.
• Plastic bags may be responsible for the death of up to 100,000 marine animals and birds.
• On land, plastic bag litter can block drains, trap birds and kill livestock.
• Australian local and state governments spend $200 million on picking up litter of all kinds.

Why Plastic Bags Are A Problem

• 20 million Australians are using 4 billion bags.
• A person’s use of a plastic shopping bag can be measured in minutes. Shop to home.
• The petroleum used to make these bags would drive a car 600 million kilometres.
• Less than 3% of plastic bags are recycled.
• Only an estimated 19% of bags are used as kitchen bin liners.
• Plastic bags are not free to consumers. ($173 million added to grocery bills)

What Government’s are saying about the problem.

• Peter Garret when he was made Federal Minister for the Enviroment announced that he would encourage all states in Australia to phase out all single use plastic bags, if necessary with a legislative ban. Labor in its second term of office has made commitments to making changes to help our enviroment.
• Federal Environment Quality Division has outlined four options;
• 1. A litter amelioration strategy.
• 2. Banning plastic bags outright.
• 3. Applying a mandated retailer charge.
• 4. A Commonwealth levy on bags.

At State level various different initiatives are in place.

• South Australia has successfully implemented a ban on single use plastic shopping bags.
• Western Australia has endorsed similar action with legislation pending.
• Northern Territory has endorsed similar action with legislation pending.
• The NSW Government is has discussed a charge per bag as a solution for this state.
• The Victorian government has trialled a charge per bag scheme and has further initiatives planned.
• The Tasmanian Government is working to also implement a ban on single use plastic bags.
• The ACT Government has dismissed the option of a charge for bags in favour of a legislative ban.

What Are The Options

Charge per bag
• Very unpopular for customers.
• Experience suggests initial positive impact wears off quickly.
• Customers reluctantly accept charge.
Degradable Bag
• More expensive.
• May not degrade in landfill.
• Contamination of the recycling stream.
• High raw material and energy requirement in production.
Paper/Cotton bags
• More expensive.
• May not degrade in landfill.
• High raw material and energy requirement in production.
• Studies have shown these have the most negative effect on the enviroment.
Poly Propylene “Green Bags”
• High raw material and energy requirement in production.
• Bulky and inconvenient to carry.
• Most suitable when purchasing a few items.
• Not washable so a limited life cycle.

Techsupplies Background
• Our designer KW Textiles was given an open brief to produce a shopper friendly product to take another step beyond the “Green Bag” concept in the fight to eliminate “one use plastic bags”.
• Key product requirements were.
1. Convenience.
2. Reduction in plastic bag use before customer arrives at checkout.
3. Product needed to be extremely robust and washable.
4. Must be suited to the majority of shoppers.
• Importantly the overall concept must incorporate ways to encourage customers to initially purchase and then stay enthusiastic about its continued use.

The Techsupplies Solution
• Compact Bags, extremely convenient to carry and use.
• Reusable bags for use at the checkout.
• Reusable bags for use in the Produce Department.
• Carbon Footprint one twentieth of comparable plastic bag.
• Carbon Footprint one half of Calico/Cloth bag.
• Polyester bags can be placed in the current waste stream for recycling.

The Conclusion
• Governments have only one method to push the public into helping with the enviroment, punishment by taxes or levies, to force change.
• Retailers have to work in a limited marketplace to educate their customers and helping to break ingrained habits.
• Customers will lose interest in the green initiative without innovative and cost effective solutions to the shopping bag.
• Techsupplies shopping bags will be a leading initiative in the fight to save our planet from waste.