- Australian Federal Environment Minister Greg Hunt and his eight state and territory counterparts will meet Dec. 15 to discuss ways to reduce plastic waste, including possible bans on plastic shopping bags.
- The Boomerang Alliance, the group urging the region’s ministers to rethink plastics, wants allowable bags to be clear or dark colored, as colored film is more toxic and more likely to be ingested. The Alliance also called on leaders to ban bags up to 70 microns and to implement policies to promote maximum adoption of reusable shopping bags.
- Jeff Angel, who leads the Alliance, supported case-by-case exemptions for retailers who demonstrate effective ways to prevent bags from reaching oceans. So far, South Australia and Tasmania, and the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory, have moved forward to implement plastic bag bans.
Plastic pollution, especially what is found in the ocean, is deadly to wildlife. An estimated 1 million sea birds and more than 100,000 mammals die every year, worldwide, when they ingest or get tangled in plastic, which has prompted some areas of the U.S., such as Hawaii and Chicago, to implement plastic bag bans, while California is attempting to do so.
Angel adds, "Of great concern are secondary microplastics derived from broken up bags and bottles." He is skeptical about trying to handle the problems through voluntary efforts, commenting, "[Voluntary programs are] incapable of resolving the issue, and a levy is too complex and administratively inefficient."
Spokesman for environment minister Hunt only commented generally on the administration’s stand. "[The administration] encourages businesses and members of the community to engage in any of the processes being run by NSW to ensure a suitable solution can be found for all parties," he said. "The states and territories have shown a willingness to work together to have approaches in place that are complementary."