Country report: Australia – Queensland

In 2008, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh ruled out introducing a plastic bag levy and instead committed her Government to a total ban on non-biodegradable bags, which is yet to be put into action.

But Bligh, who was re-elected in March 2009, added that an immediate ban on conventional bags was impossible due to an insufficient supply of biodegradable bags.

Pointing to a worsening economic climate, the Government has refused to support a levy on plastic bags. “Slugging Queensland families with a national levy for plastic bags will add further pressure to Queenslanders who are already struggling to make ends meet, and my government is not willing to support such a move,” Bligh told the Queensland Parliament last year.

The Liberal National Party opposition supports the Government’s resistance to a levy, instead recommending tougher penalties for littering.

Bligh called on the private sector to come up with alternatives for plastic bags. “Urgent work with industry needs to be done to identify how quickly an alternative could be delivered to meet demand.”

While the Government has so far failed to act, concerned businesses have turned to local biodegradable options. One of the more successful products, Paper Poort, offers free fully recyclable paper bags to retailers on the Sunshine Coast.

As with other states, some retailers have voluntarily introduced their own levies and restrictions on plastic bags.

Several local governments have also joined the campaign to eliminating plastic bags.

Johnstone Shire Council and the Millaa Millaa Chamber of Commerce were granted $5000 in state government funds to launch educational campaigns to lower plastic bag usage.

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